Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I have been re-posting this the Sunday just before or after Thanksgiving for years. It has been one of your favorites... and mine.  :)

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
  • Visiting my sister, Bonnie, to see how she decorated her place (she has that wow factor)
  • Sending Christmas cards to our elderly aunties
  • Visiting 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 in recent years involves more solitude than in the past and none require very 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 can come in this... 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, Christmas is about the Giver of all gifts.


Rebecca said...

Yes! (as I sit here in the light of the simple tree, coffee in hand, surrounded by quiet...) I have journaled, read Scripture, prayed, and now am enjoying sights and INsights from my CyberFriends.

Wishing you a blessed day finding and creating joy for yourself and others, Brenda.

Vee said...

Oh yes! I remember this one. I have not been faithful to do it, but one year, after reading it, my mother and I sat down to create a list of what Christmas would look like. It was her final Christmas with us on earth and I'm so happy that we took the time to really analyze what Christmas would be like. I have a photo of her sitting in the recliner near the tree having coffee and reading the morning paper. We began playing Christmas music early and it was on many hours of the day...we had fun creating the playlist together with her making many requests of the various songs and singers. Bing Crosby's White Christmas was high on the list as I recall, though all the beloved sacred pieces were there, too. It also included the recipes we would bake and what Christmas Day would be like. And! We included a supper at Cracker Barrel because it had just opened in our area and if you had recommended it so highly, we would go. I probably told you all this last year, but it brings such a warm feeling that I'm telling you again this. Thank you for helping us make Christmas intentional rather than just roaring through it as if it had no significance or importance in our lives. Many blessings to you today, Brenda!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

This is a lovely post, Brenda. I enjoyed reading your list. I always send Christmas cards to my elderly aunts. I know they appreciate hearing from me. Thank you for sharing and have a beautiful Sunday.


Sunshine said...

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This is one of my favorite posts! How are you feeling? I hope you have a wonderful week. Sunshine

terricheney said...

One of my favorite posts! Love the plates in earlier post. I shall have to make a trip to Tuesday Morning to see if mine has such lovely plates.

Anonymous said...

Oh!!,... I had forgotten reading this post before... I am soooo glad you did it again this year!!! I feel this is just what we need here. I did it before and it made such a difference in the holiday, Oh thank you Brenda for bring this idea back to us! I had a childhood friend who just wrote me again today and I will pass it on to her. From what she was saying to me about the upcoming holidays I truly feel this will make all the difference in her holiday too. . Sarah

Anonymous said...

Oh I just read Vee's comment about making Christmas intentional... what a beautiful statement. Sarah

Unknown said...

Every Advent I have a morning 'quiet time' with the Lord next the Christmas tree. It's a personal love of mine.

I also love Mass during Advent, it's so special and wonderful to be reminded again just what our Lord has done for us.

Love your blog, all the way from Oz!

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

This is an amazing and touching post. I came over from Vee's blog. Thank you for sharing!

Vickie said...

Hi Brenda - I hopped over from Vee's, and promise to make my list. I, too, have felt disappointed after Christmas in years past - not always, but once is too many. Sometimes, it seems that Christmas has lost its meaning, and I vow to not let that happen this year. The less I shop, the less I buy, the less go-go-go I do, the better I feel. The more time I spend with the Lord and remembering what He did for me, the more I spend time with my loved ones and friends, the more I focus - these are the things that make me happy during this holiday season. Thanks so much for the reminder! Now, on to my list!

Anonymous said...

Love your new header. You are getting to spiffy with this "blogging stuff".
Blessings, Sharon D.

Anonymous said...

That was supposed to be "so" spiffy not "to" spiffy. Sorry, typo.

Anonymous said...

My daughter just told me about you. I love this post. My list is very similar to yours. I am early 70's now and more and more love "simple"! I, too, like Panera and we visit there occasionally. I also love to write "real" letters. Our little tree is up now and I love the small lights. One granddaughter is performing with a choir and symphony this year and I will be going to that. God bless you this Christmas. Sandy

Buttercup said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I'd like to do a list, too, of all the lovely things that give me happiness. I've started by listening to Christmas music and singing along.