Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I have been re-posting this the Sunday after Thanksgiving for awhile but I thought... perhaps this year... with so many affected by the economy... it would be good to revisit this post before the "official" start of the Holiday season. It is all about the year I changed the way I "did Christmas".   :)

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 a small gift to my sister, Jean, knowing it is her first Christmas as a widow
  • Send Christmas cards to our elderly aunties
  • Visit my favorite "downtown" primitive country store... breath in the scents, no purchase necessary
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.


Catherine said...

My favorite Christmas moments are those times of solitude in the dark with the tree and the lights. I am warmed by the memories of holidays past and I smile at the day to come. Thank you for this beautiful post.


Lallee said...

Brenda, that is a lovely idea to do. I enjoyed reading through your list--a good one. I'll have to put my thinking cap on.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

"It is about the Giver of all gifts."

So true, my friend.

We try to focus on the ONE during this season.

Small pleasures on your list but ones that bring joy and peace!

Donnie said...

What a sweet post Brenda. We're in Florida, away from family for Christmas, and I really think your journal idea would be great. Do you put it away with your decorations and bring it out to add to or is this part of your regular journaling?

Jackie said...

Thank you Brenda for your encouraging post. You have touched on something I have been struggling with as the Christmas holiday nears and that is "lack of joy". I think it starts to be evident as I become overwhelmed by wanting to do everything. I like your idea of making a list of some of the things that bring joy to me and then try to include some of them this season. We certainly have different seasons in our lives! Again...thanks for sharing these thoughts...I enjoy your blog. Blessings to you as you enjoy this time of Christmas celebration!

matty said...

Wonderful reminder!

My favorite Christmas activity? Taking my charity knitting to the recipient group and leaving it -- with no name. I love doing it! For months afterwards I always try to watch for anyone wearing one of my hats, gloves, scarves, or vests as it gives me a smile to know I had a little hand in something special.

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post! I was already beginning to feel the holiday panic set it. Today I am going to sit down and write out my list. I will carefully plan out the next month with more attention to worshiping the Christ of Christmas. Thank you for steering me in the right direction.


Denise said...

Thank you Brenda,This listing will help me too.For the last two years I've been feeling slightly sad only because I "passed the baton" to my four daughters to host all holiday dinners.Mainly because we down sized but also I was getting worn out,but now I miss it.The girls are having fun doing it .I need to adjust thats all.

Vee said...

Brenda, this is brilliant. I could just hug you. I am so going to follow your suggestion and sit down with a pot of tea and my beloved mom in tow where we are going to write down our Christmas expectations. One thing that I really want to do is to add the Advent symbolism to Christmas again. We followed Miss Sandy's instructions at Quill Cottage Christmas before last, skipped it last, but missed it terribly. Focus is so good!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful idea! Was the book Unplug the Christmas Machine? (by Jo Robinson) It was all about how Xmas is too rushed and commercial.
Some years at Xmas I've hardly had time to get to church, which just shows how priorities can get mixed up at this time of year.
Anyway the list is a great idea and I'm going to try it too. Thank you.

allisamazing said...

What a wonderful idea. I am going to take some quiet time this evening after hubby heads out for his night shift and do exactly that, make a list of things I would like to experience this Christmas. ~Alana~

TheNormalMiddle said...

One of my most favorite things to do is to lie down near the tree at night, with it all lit up....looking up at it from below. Just breathtaking.

Anonymous said...

We have always loved eating at Cracker Barrel too...however a few weeks ago the nearest one to us, about 30 minutes away, was a VERY lousy experience!! We will not return to THAT one. I am hoping that was a fluke as we are supposed to get one in our town next year!! And I surely hope your local one is still good!!

Enjoyed the ideas for celebrating. Sometimes for us just a meal of what we consider yummy, here at home is all it takes to feel we have celebrated!! We also do not have large bunches of people in anymore...I simply find it harder now to get everything done that is required to do that. We are in fact, in the midst now of paring down and will be doing a lot more of that in coming months. Hopefully to eventually get into a smaller place and less expenses too. My hubby is so longing to retire and we are not set up for that we have to find ways so that can happen soon!!
Blessings, Elizabeth

Fixing My Thoughts said...

Brenda, your list is wonderful. It gives me a sense of peace just to read through it. I also enjoy listening to Christmas Carols and playing them on the piano, which I haven't done yet this year. Off to dig out my Christmas music!


The Journey said...

A breakfast out at Cracker Barrel during Christmas-----------this one sounds good to me. I need to sit down and think of things especially since this is the Christmas before my son deploys- that makes it sad to me but I want to make it special for him.

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Wonderful post, Brenda!

I'm keeping it near as this season approaches.

Susan said...

Wonderful advice - I'm going to do it today. Maybe with a Gingerbread Latte at my side :-)

G.L.H. said...

Thank you for posting your list. There were two things I hadn't thought of, that I want to do. I work better with a list, anyway!!!


Anita said...

As usual you have put new thoughts into my head! It's all good. I'm going to contemplate more on the reason for the season...Jesus. I might even make a list.

Jennifer said...

I love this! Thanks for sharing it. I am off to make my own list. And then, I will have my kids make their lists. As a mother, I would like to know what truly matters to them during the Christmas season. It really makes me stop and think. And makes me want to change some things. :-)

Anonymous said...

Brenda, once again, lovely ideas.
My husband and I have been empty nesters for years now, with family scattered.

I haven't done much for the holidays in the past few years because of this. I am learning,though,that I need to make Christmas 'special' again, even if it is only the two of us now. After all, Jesus didn't stop being our Saviour just because our children grew is a blessed season! And we may have our little granddaughter for a week in December, so, perhaps I need to start MY list too.

La Tea Dah said...

A lovely, inspirational post, Brenda. THANKS!