Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - My Annual Holiday Reminder

Winter Scene
I have been re-posting this the Sunday just before or after Thanksgiving for a lot of years. It has been one of your favorites... and mine.  When I wrote this post for the first time, my son was still living at home.  So my Christmas list has been tweaked through the years to represent our current Season.  When I began making the list, it included a lot more in the way of "going places".  Now it much quieter.  But still good...

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 beloved Christmas items.
  • Decorating with my snowmen 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 the Holidays
  • Holiday Baking
  • Candy Cane Lane tea
  • Hot apple cider
  • 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
  • Listening to concerts on PBS
  • One or two (or more) Pumpkin Spice Latte's to enjoy
  • A morning at Panera sipping coffee and writing a real letter
  • Sending Christmas cards to our elderly aunties
  • Visiting my favorite "downtown" primitive country store... breath in the scents, no purchase necessary (it has closed but there is another one I will visit this year that is similar).
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.


Trish Ladowski said...

Brenda, I remember this post from years past and I truly enjoy it. I believe you are so wise to list these items that are mostly free and always sound fun.Thanks for sharing this again. You are so special to me.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post.

The one up side of having health and financial issues in the family is that we are forced to prioritize. We have to choose what's important to us and leave the rest. It's better than mindlessly doing everything and buying everything, then wondering why we are tired and broke by Christmas.

Vee said...

It reads as beautifully this year as ever, Brenda. Thank you.

Cheryl said...

Just this week, I thought of this post! It was so helpful to me last year in focusing on the best. I asked each person in our immediate family to name one or two things that were the most meaningful. I was surprised at some of the things that were chosen! This purposefulness made Christmas festivities doable and meaningful.

Thank you for sharing this!

Nanna Chel said...

That is a lovely post, Brenda. Christmas is fairly simple for us. I am in my sixties and when I was born people were still recovering from WW2 so money was tight and all presents were handmade...and made with love. The highlight of the Christmas season was waiting for baby Jesus to appear in the nativity scene in our local church on Christmas Eve :-) Life was very simple then.

PJ Geek said...

I like this list too. I also have realized that these things like sitting by the tree in quiet moments are what I actually remember more each year than any gift. I second you on most of these. I also like listening to certain Christmas music, driving around to look at lights, spending time outside looking at the stars and reflecting on the birth and life of Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Brenda, I am new to reading your blog this past year. Thank you for sharing this with us. It has helped & encouraged me today. :)
I always appreciate your wise words & gentle reminders about what is most important in this all too short & precious life.
With love & thankfulness.

Heather LeFebvre said...

I am still following your advice :) I make a list for my birthday too. :)

Unknown said...

What a wonderful idea. I will attempt this during December this year.
I know that peace, quiet and the Spirit of Christmas are what is essential and will bless everyone you come in contact with.
God bless and enrich you.