Sunday, December 01, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Tea

"We live the given life, and not the planned." ~Wendell Berry
I was wondering what to write about this Sunday when the above quote was a status update on my long distance friend Lanier's Facebook page.

For some reason, I'm not "into" Christmas this year.  Have no idea why...  Last year I put all the decorations up with glee but this year the Christmas tree ornaments have only brought about the smallest of smiles.

Perhaps as the Season progresses I'll feel a little less Bah Humbug and a little more Ho, Ho, Ho.  If nothing else, I will decorate the house (even if a sizable part of my collection remains in boxes this year). I'll play Christmas music and watch Christmas movies and read favorite Christmas books.

But sometimes Christmas is just... difficult.

For the Holidays remind us of those missing from the table, whether they have "gone on to their reward" or only to another part of the country.  Those of us with no small children around the tree this time of year feel nostalgia for the magic of Christmas seen only through the presence of a child... whether our own childhood memories or those of our kids.

Both Thanksgiving and Christmas can bring stress when we are forced around the dinner table with those we may not particular want to be near... and that is even more difficult when we are related by marriage or through a shared blood line.  We bite our tongue and remember to let the love of God shine through us to them.

I love that quote from Wendell Barry above for it reminds me that none of us are living the life we would have chosen.  No, not one of us.  Perhaps some come closer to others but in every life there is... dissatisfaction.

I think it was C. S. Lewis who reminded us that God does not give us everything we want while living in this world for otherwise we would have no desire for Heaven.   I can't even begin to wrap my thoughts around what Eternity with Him will look like.  Not only Heaven but a New Earth.

We are told mankind cannot imagine the great things He has in store for us.  Amazing.  I'm pretty good at imagining.

So this Christmas Season I will dwell on the One whose birth it is really all about, anyway.  Even if most of the movies on television center around Santa and his elves and his family and Rudolph.  Although you have got to love Rudolph.

I plan to sip a latte at Starbucks, enjoy a breakfast out at Cracker Barrel with their fireplace crackling and County Christmas music in the background, perhaps perusing Christmas issues of favorite magazines at Barnes and Noble, or even a morning at Panera with a scone and coffee while writing a few Christmas cards to far off loved ones.

I have learned that Christmas does not have to be perfect to be good.  Now I only have to practice that.

14 comments:

Linda said...

May you have the most 'perfectly' GOOD Christmas - just the way YOU like it this year!

Rebecca said...

No, Christmas DOESN'T have to be perfect to be good! Great thoughts here.

nancy holliday said...

Brenda, I have been reading your blog for a few years now, and it never fails to connect with me. I have been in so many similar circumstances with you, and you have taught me how to appreciate beauty in the midst of these circumstances. I too love the Lord, and He has taught me so much through your blog. I know that He led me to you. I feel like we're friends even though we've never met, and I want you to know what a blessing you have been to me through the years.

Vee said...

Now you have started a lengthy conversation here. John thinks that since the given life is from God, it is vastly to be preferred to the planned life. If that is how it is defined, then I'd have to agree. I believe that God is always working things out for our ultimate good as we yield to Him. As for being "in the Christmas spirit" it comes floating in on the simplest of memories, moments, meanings or musings. It will come...of that I am sure. Brenda, sweet blessings to you. I hope that you are blessed in the same way that you have blessed us. I thank God for you!

Debbie said...

I can so relate to this post. This will be the first Christmas without my sweet mom and I thought and expected to just not be "into" this year at all. And yet I find myself more busy than usual trying to recreate what I knew she loved. And mom LOVED Christmas. I am going to have a special dinner this season for just my brothers and sisters and their wives and husbands ~ no little ones! ~ and I am going to serve all her traditional favorites. We will do this a couple of weeks before Christmas, and hopefully spend some time just talking about and remembering mom. i think I have made my head full of little details so as not to dwell on what I've lost. And yet! Christmas Day will be soo different this year as my youngest son and his family will spend the day with her mother, which means 6 will be missing from our traditional feel which includes 4 of my grandchildren of course. They live near her parents and see them several times a week so I am trying to remember it is nice to share, lol. They have always spent it with us. My son is a pastor and he does a service Christmas Eve and does a homeless ministry for breakfast. My daughter is coming this year with her little ones so I am focusing on that. I have no idea why I have commented you my life story, other than this post just made me think. Your right of course. Christmas is about something very different than what usually gets celebrated, and we need to remember and focus more on that. Enjoy your day!

Susan in SC said...

I so agree with everything your wrote! Great post for all of us who have not found that Christmas spirit yet.

Linda Fox said...

Yes, I'm having a little trouble getting into the decorating mood. December always seems to come so quick that I'm not quite ready for it.

Debbie said...

Funny how our minds went to the same place. I had written a whole post on how the holidays were difficult and why but then hit the delete button because the pain was just too raw. My husband and I too are trying to concentrate on all that is good and just enjoy our family and friends that we love and that love us also.

Enjoy the "good" Brenda. :)

BECKY said...

Brenda, what a lovely post. It almost seems odd to use the word "lovely" because part of your subject is about the not-so-perfect parts of life, yet you bring it all together. I've noticed the last few years aren't as much "fun" either, because our sons are all grown-up, and although we've tried to put a stop to the grandkids getting older, they still keep doing it! :) Sending you warm wishes and hope for many happy memories, plus the making of happy NEW memories.

Anonymous said...

Appreciated your comments here, Brenda...you are not alone in how you feel...and for most, maybe no holiday turns out exactly as they would want it to. I think CS Lewis was so right...the imperfections here make Heaven looks more inviting...one day ere long we shall be in our next life, that never ends. I miss my loved ones gone ahead, the babies I miscarried and never met, but one goes on, trying to make good times for the others. It really is about others...the most joy comes from being able to bless someone else, doesn't it?
Elizabeth back in NC for a time...

Anonymous said...

You seem to have met me where I am at this year. I too am finding it hard to get excited about Christmas this year and yet, as a Christian, shouldn't I be excited? I think some of my discontent is the way the world has so commercialized it. One has to dig hard to find Christ in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. I know better but I have often been sucked in with everyone else. This year, I want Christmas to look different, to feel different...perhaps it will come more softly. I loved the Wendell Berry quote - I collect quotes and wrote that one down for remembering for it is true, not many of us live the life we imagined in our dreams..or as I like to call it, "la,la land." For many of us face challenges we never could have imagined. I am so grateful I do not walk alone through this life.
Laura

Heather L. said...

I'm not yet into Christmas.....but I think that's because my health has been suffering since we got back. :( Hoping it doesn't get worse. I've enjoyed such good health for six years now. The kids are excited though...... :)

Deborah said...

Hello from a new reader. I love the Wendell Berry quote, and I notice we use the same Thanksgiving dishes, and like the same books (Elizabeth Goudge and Rosamunde Pilcher). I look forward to visiting here more.

Glenda said...

You are an inspiration and your blog is very much appreciated. May God bless you daily.