Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - The Annual Holiday List 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.  I have received more notes about how making such a list changed reader's Christmas seasons than any other post.  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 many, many 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
  • Using my Friendly Village china
  • 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 and PBS cooking shows come 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 far away friends and family
  • Visiting my favorite primitive country store... breath in the scents, no purchase necessary
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?
Have you asked God what can replace those "used to do" joys?
Are you saying "yes" to things you hate to do (and don't have to)?
Can you think of ways to save limited time (store bought sugar cookie dough?)
Have you decided that good done now is better than the perfect undone?

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.


Heather said...

I always love your holiday list - I am just going to make a cup of tea and write a new list for this year. My sweet girl is under the weather this morning so I am home from church listening to her breathe as she sleeps and enjoying the quiet.

Sandi said...

Loved this!

Loved the photo, the true, all of this angst is self-imposed and, frankly, ridiculous. I was fretting about gifts, what to get and who for, you know how it is. But I prayed...then the next morning I had some great ideas, all unstressful things that would make thoughtful gifts. For my neices and nephews, cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Life can be good. :)

Deanna Rabe said...

I do love this! It allows us to remember why we celebrate and to be reminded to celebrate in ways that are meaningful to us. We don't have to make the holidays a competition.

Your list is great, I am going to give mine some thought and write a post about it linking to your two posts this weekend.

You are a blessing, friend!


Keri said...

I love this annual reminder. Thank you for always posting it! One of the things that needs to remain on my list - but that tends to get pushed aside by busyness - is coloring with my children while listening to the Cinnamon Bear radio serial on December afternoons. We used to do that when they were younger and life was less busy, and we all loved it (especially this tired mama who savored the time when the children weren't chattering!). We all still love doing it, even though everyone is older now, but it happens sporadically instead of every afternoon. You've inspired me to place it high on my list and keep it a priority this year, because it brings so much peace and pleasure to my heart.

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again for this very thoughtful reminder. Since first reading it long ago I began to slow down our Christmas, taking time to enjoy quiet time with my Bible by the tree lights, sipping Candy Cane Lane tea (also a favorite here!), listening to the music of the season and just savoring what Christmas really is. This year we are adding back into our season a visit to a historic home, something we did each year when our children were small but had left behind when they left home. We realized how much we missed it and so are planning to visit an old favorite early December to experience Christmas as it was long ago when Christ truly was the heart of Christmas. And thanks to you I've finally learned to say "no" to events, or anything away from home that is not needed or would intrude on our Christmas season.

God's blessings on you and your family,

Deborah Montgomery said...

What a great idea. I'm inspired to make my own list. Thank you for the inspiration.

Vee said...

I think that I shall follow Deanna's example and blog about it and link back. I know that the intentional thinking about these things makes for a better Christmas. I know that I have told you this before, but I am so grateful that I did this with my mother in 2010. We had no idea that it would be her last Christmas with us. She decided that Christmas music was one of her very favorite things and began listening to it in mid-November. Makes me smile just thinking about it...

Elizabeth said...

Love this!

Anonymous said...

We have cut way back on buying gifts which really gives great relief. I like to give little homemade items now such as a jar of jam. My favorite seasonal things are free - evergreens, holly and music.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for sharing this once again! I made my own list a year or two ago after reading this, and need to get it out and check to see if It needs revising. When I first made my list and showed it to my husband, we made a point of doing one of the things on it: driving around to see all the Christmas lights! It's a favorite memory of mine from clear back when I was a child!
Happy Thanksgiving!
Laura C. (WA)

Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

What a lovely abnd heart-felt post.

I love your list!

I need to do this, too. It's great advice!

May you enjoy peace and joy during the entire Advent season, dear lady.