Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Christmas this year--at least the beginning of it--has felt over-shadowed. I know that my feelings don't matter at all in relation to the marking of the Nativity of Christ and that most important aspect of the holiday was the highlight. Because of the weather, very few people made it to Liturgy so that only David and I served at the altar. I loved serving with him and he enjoyed the additional responsibility. The weather was a blessing in other ways as well. I love snow and we got to go sledding--Simon's first time. Snow is a pleasant challenge and always creates memories, like getting stuck in grandpa's driveway having Uncle Paul tow me out. But for all the fun and beauty, the weather definitely overshadowed the larger family gatherings and celebrating of the feast.

Poor planning was another dark cloud. It is the same complaint every year with me--I hate spending the weeks prior to Christmas in a stressed rush to finish everything. The things that I enjoy most--cooking and wrapping gifts--I do quickly at the last minute. I have already outlined a timeline for completing the Next-Christmas Project. I begins basically now and is complete by the beginning of Advent so that all I have left is cooking and wrapping so that I may give those activities the time they deserve and really enjoy them. I was thinking about what this means--a year-long preparation for Christmas. Hopefully, if I do it right, it will mean that I am giving the appropriate amount of attention to it at any given time rather than having to think about it 24-7 during the Advent season, which is better spent in a more reflective preparation. It will also spread out my focus on making/buying things for others and anything that focuses me on others is good. It is possible that an easy, well-paced year-long preparation for Christmas will be very edifying.

Of course, none of this matters a whit to the boys. I remember back when each of them was very young--around their first or second Christmases or birthdays, when they would open a present and be so absorbed by it that we would have to remind them that there is another present to open. Reluctantly, they would put down the first to open the second and then be absorbed by that. Not now. Even gifts that they absolutely love are rapidly dropped in favor of the next box, creating a blizzard of paper, ribbons, and Scotch Tape in the house that was as intense as the one outside. Their enjoyment this year was increased by the snow as well as by the gifts that they gave. We spent some time making low-relief plaster casts of their hands as a couple of gifts. We also spent quality time one afternoon picking out gifts from each of us to Jaime. Jaime did the same getting them presents for me. So they were just as excited when other people were opening their presents.

A few family members got them Barnes and Noble gift cards, which we went out and spent last night. Part of me wanted to exert some control over what they got, but I resisted. I am pretty happy with the haul. Simon got a book featuring anthropomorphic bulldozers, another featuring Cars characters, a stuffed "Max" from Where the Wild Things Are, and a kit that contains a rocket powered by baking soda and vinegar. David got a book featuring Batman, a kit about the solar system that includes models of the planets and a mini-cosmosphere, and a book of knock, knock jokes. He is trying to learn how to tell a joke. Since I used the word "learn" in the previous sentence, and because I'll make him read the jokes himself, I am considering it homeschool material.

So nothing overshadowed Christmas for them. The weather meant we had our service early in the evening so they both got to enjoy it--Simon had his mom to himself and David got to serve. The snow meant all kinds of fun. They weren't rushed about anything. They had fun making and buying presents. And, of course, they had fun receiving them.

Christ is Risen!

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