Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I have been re-posting this the Sunday after Thanksgiving (or just before) for years.  :)

I remember coming to the end of a Christmas season about ten or twelve years ago and wondering at my frustration.

There were no severe money trials that season, nothing that should have kept me from enjoying Christmas but... I couldn't put my finger on it... there was this sense of a lack of satisfaction... an unsettled feeling.

Soon after that, I was reading an article (magazine... book?) about this very thing. In it, the author said she learned to write out what it was she wanted from the Christmas season, what was most important to her. When I started doing that, I realized why the previous season had been lacking in joy.

It had been a rushed Christmas, the "doing" of many activities I felt I should do and not "being" the person I wanted to be that Season. My frustrations stemmed from a lack of getting away, alone beside my Christmas tree, enjoying that which comes from prayer and study and reading of books. I also had not said "no" to some outside activities that did not bring peace and joy.

Since that time, I have enjoyed making a list each season. My list has changed since that time due to health and finances but only in the "big" things. My list back then included attending a Christmas concert that I loved each year. However, it became too expensive even when we did have a regular income. It wasn't that much of a priority that I'd spend more for tickets to a concert then I would on a week's worth of groceries.

Another item on my list that has gone by the wayside is hosting a big Christmas party. I loved decorating the house and having a lot of people over but that season is now behind me. 
 
I remember one very magic (Narnia magic) party in our former house when we invited over Stephanie's college group. There was a tree in the family room and one in the living room, a fire was burning in the fire place, food placed in various areas, conversations were going on in many rooms of the house.

Later that night, as the young people were leaving, one student came up to tell me that night will be one of his "perfect Christmas memories" when he leaves college. It is one of my perfect memories, too. :)

I have found by making a list of those things I love about Christmas, I can make certain what means the most to me (and for my family) becomes a priority for time and money. Here are a few for this year, written out on paper before transferring to my scrapbook journal. Of course, I can't do them all but any of them on the "wish list" would make my season bright.
  • Decorating the house with my snowman collection
  • Carefully placing all my ornaments on the tree
  • Morning quiet times in the dark, with the tree lit
  • A breakfast out at Cracker Barrel during Christmas
  • Lunch with the guys at our favorite cafeteria
  • Holiday Baking
  • Candy Cane Lane tea
  • Listening to the music of the season
  • Watching favorite Christmas movies
  • Reading favorite Christmas books
  • Seeing what yummies The Food Channel comes up with this year
  • One or two Pumpkin Spice Latte's to enjoy
  • A morning at Panera sipping coffee and writing a real letter
  • Visit my sister, Bonnie, to see how she decorated her place (she has that wow factor)
  • Send Christmas cards to our elderly aunties
  • Visit my favorite "downtown" primitive country store... breath in the scents, no purchase necessary (although this is where I buy small candles for the season when possible).
Most of my list this year involves more solitude than in the past. It has been that kind of year. None require much money.

This is only a way of thinking through what brings joy... and peace... and faith... and what lifts my thoughts to the One Who Made Me.

Little satisfactions in the most wondrous and magical time of the year.

I encourage you to brew a little pot of tea and fill your favorite tea cup, bring along a notebook and pen, light the Christmas tree if you have one, and think about those things that bring joy to your heart at Christmas. Are you making time for them? Did you budget for them through the year? What makes your heart sing with gladness?

You don't need to do them all, just choose a few that will cause you to look back at this Christmas and smile... and remember, Christmas is not about the price of gifts or how many are given, it is about the Giver of all gifts.

11 comments:

Rebecca said...

What a great list. (AND a great idea - really identifying what is important to you and your household...)

Enjoy those quiet morning hours reflecting on the goodness and mercies of the Heavenly Father.....Mornings are the "best" for me, too!

Deb said...

I really enjoyed your post with my morning coffee. I'm going to do just that...make a list today. I love Christmas and I want every one to be a wonderful memory. Thanks. Hugs, Deb=^..^=x4

mamatigerj said...

Brenda,

I am doing this very thing today!

Blessings,
Juanita

freetobeme - Anita said...

Thanks for the good idea...to write out what I want or expect the season to bring. I'm not sure how many more years I can do the decorating I do now and I've cut down from what I used to do. Oh dear. Having my Sunday Afternoon Tea with you is a priority!

Linda said...

I agree with everyone. This was a great post. I love your list and do many of those same things. I start the season by taking down the fall decorations and taking my teen age gd's for shopping trips to see what they want for Christmas. We have a favorite Christmas boutigue that we go to ever year. They have bargin prices on things they have found around the world. I want to try your idea of QT by the tree. Happy December.

Raewyn said...

I'm curled up with a homemade chai tea latte while reading your post. You put into words the hope I feel each Christmas, and the sense of magic the holidays bring. Lovely post, Grandmamma. I hope you're feeling better! :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely idea, to plan some "possibilities"! I cannot make firm plans because in the last few years we have gotten ill and I had to cancel out on other people. SO! We do not make definite plans...but kind of "fly by the seat of our pants"...and then sometimes wonderful things happen.
Elizabeth in NC

Anonymous said...

Hello Brenda,

My beloved husband for 26 years entered into Joy on November 16. He had suffered so much it was a mercy God took him home.

My own Christmas has already begun with a scented candle, the rich and mellow music of a new Priests CD filling our apartment with beauty, and times of solitude to reflect and renew my strength.

I'm writing thank you notes to the many who have shown kindness or sent cards of condolence. I'm thanking God for His goodness to me in so many ways and for all the loving friends He has given us.

I know I have to stay connected to people to thrive. But, I notice with wonder the new opportunities to share in the suffering of others. There is a fellowship of suffering.

God is sufficient. He has been with me and carried me through beautifully with all the funeral details. Now He is helping settle the many affairs that remain.

My focus is on the promises of God and I am personalizing so many and watch with amazement and joy as He keeps His Word. He treats me as very precious and tenderly meets my needs and even my desires.

My work has graciously given me time off until the New Year to take care of things and myself.

On my wish list is Music. I hope to go with a friend to a Bach Children's Chorus evening. Another friend has invited me to two musical events at her church.

These are very special to me as I used to stay home with my husband who was invalided for 17 years. He finished strong in faith right to the very end.

Another desire is to bring comfort and encouragement to others. I'm also asking the Lord for a vision of new ministry for His Kingdom. It may be only to one person at a time. Already He has opened doors to several of my neighbours. I want to number my days aright and apply my heart to wisdom.

I like to read, but right now my mind won't take in much. I'm not forcing it. I know I need to be gentle with myself and give myself time to grieve for my very special sweetheart. Even if I only take in one verse, that verse can comfort and strengthen me all day.

I record God's goodness in my Thankfulness Journal that I have kept daily for thirty-one years. I see His intimate and personal kindness to me every. single. day.

Your thoughtful writings find a kindred response in my own heart. God bless you for sharing your journey with us.

Someday we'll meet in our Beautiful New Home.

Love,
Honey Bee

Mrs.Rabe said...

Great list!

As I grow older I find I want less things and just more time together driving to see a special lights display (free!), going to breakfast, enjoying the lights on the tree and garlands, drinking tea...

Simple special things...

Deanna

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Your discernment over why Christmas sometimes comes and goes and we feel 'empty' or vaguely 'dissatisfied' and can't put our finger on it, was RIGHT ON THE MARK. I can't believe that someone could put so perfectly how I also have felt and then so beautifully explain EXACTLY how to address it. I feel like you brought this message directly from God to me.

My frustration was always compounded because in our family we don't focus on 'things'; we live as committed Christians and try and honor the 'reason for the season'; we don't go overboard in shopping, eating, decorating or entertaining ourselves to death, yet there is usually that void when it's all over. I recognize now that not knowing what one's expectations were leaves one in a state of limbo, much like when there are many things going on and one can't focus to pray properly so frustration sets in.

I plan to take your advice and make a list and consciously 'live the season' in a more focused way. I can't thank you enough for helping me to find clarity in this area.

Angela said...

This is a great idea. I have thought of a few things and am asking my kids what things they would like to do (or have, or eat, or whatever) this year. I know my daughter always likes to go to Chik-Fil-A and get a peppermint milkshake :) Enjoy your plans!