I ran errands all day yesterday. The sun was shining and the roads were clear so it seemed a good day to visit my sister, do some last minute Christmas shopping, send a couple packages at the Post Office, check out Goodwill and the thrift store in the town near me (on the way home from visiting my sister), and make a "Wal Mart" run for a few nonfood items and stocking stuffers for my son.
At the end of the day I was so exhausted I couldn't even begin to pick up a book. Instead I listened to two Selah CDs with my head on my pillow and my eyes closed... tired but content that most of gotta do's of the Christmas Season are behind me. Everything left were those "chores" to be accomplished from home including Christmas dinner preparations on Monday and Tuesday and a few Christmas crafts accomplished today when I took puffy glitter paint sticks and "painted" names on plain white gift sacks (purchased together for less than the cost of one premade gift sack in the craft section of Wal Mart).
When the paint had dried, I brought out my scrapbooking supplies and found Christmas stickers to decorate each bag further. Into each grandchild's bag (except baby Matthew) went a backpack, a big coloring book, a new box of Crayola crayons, and a new book. A couple unwrapped Little People packages are under the tree, to be shared by all the children and Uncle Christopher has to wrap each stuffed animal he is giving them. Their Daddy has a bag of his own but since he sometimes reads this blog, I cannot say what it contains. I'm hoping the weather is good enough for them to travel late next week... over the river and through lots of woods to Grammie and Granddad's house.
Now I know some men would disagree but in reality, it is usually the women who "make" Christmas each season. For the most part, we juggle the activities and do all the baking, shop for gifts (often throughout the year) and make certain they are wrapped and shipped where needed, keep the secrets and make the magic... as our mother's often did before us.
For there is something in the heart of women that understand it all... deep down inside. Especially if we take the time to be silent and listen to that still small Voice. This is the time of year we have the excuses needed to create the magic... the Narnia magic... in our homes. It doesn't matter if we are single or married, have children or pets (or both). Within us there is a knowing that it matters. Deep down inside, the memories that are being made each year will go with us long after the cookies are eaten and the wrapping paper has been thrown away.
Just as Mary pondered "these things" in her heart, women have been pondering the meaning of Christmas for generations. From the simple Christmas celebrations on the Prairie, to the elaborate Victorian events, to the snow filled celebrations we in Northern climates experience, or the hot weather of our friends "Down Under"... women have been keeping Christmas for a very long time.
There are good years and not-so-good years, some with sadness and those with great joy. Perhaps nothing gives us an indication of the year we have just experienced than the celebrations we experience each particular Christmas. However, we keep going... knowing deep within us it is important. We get tired and cranky by the Big Day itself if we aren't taking the time to take care of our self... to rest and eat right (trust me as I have overdosed on Christmas cookies after the cookie exchange)... to spend extra time in the Gospels and think of Mary... and Joseph... shepherds and angels... wise men beginning a trip to follow the star... a million angels looking in awe as their King becomes a precious little baby whose existence depends on a human mother.
I was talking to my brother-in-law about his mother yesterday, how we all enjoyed the benefit of days she spent in her kitchen making homemade candies and cookies... and how my sister continued the tradition after Nina became too old and ill to be in the kitchen herself. Now my sister is a new great grandmother even though she is only in her 60s (having married in her teens!) and Nina has been with the Lord for a couple of decades. But here were the three of us talking and practically tasting that candy I loved in my childhood.
At our Christmas dinner earlier this month, my brother-in-law (hubby's brother) was telling us how interesting it is that he can still taste his mother's cranberry Jello-o salad but he can't locate her recipe. How happy I was to find it in my recipe card file, typed out in her familiar type with "Stella" in the corner and to send it to him so he can make it for his friends this Christmas. Memories... from the kitchen of a mother.
Women understand for that is the way we were made. God caused us to ponder things in our heart so the next generation and the one that follows that and the one that follows next... will remember. We will continue to make the magic, bake the goodies, look for the perfect gifts, wrap them beautifully or bring out the glitter paints and stickers to make our own objects of "beauty". We have January to rest while the nights are still long... with a good book and a cup of tea at our side.