Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Afternoon Tea - My Annual Holiday Reminder

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 the budget. 

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.
  • Visiting my sister to see her Christmas decorations.
  • 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, switching to Peppermint Mocha as Christmas comes near
  • 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 realized that good enough accomplished now is far better than  perfect expectations left 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!


Vee said...

I did not brew a pot of tea, but when I realized that this was my favorite cozy read, I popped some corn and came back with that a a glass of diet coke. Ahhhhh.... As you know, my mother and I created Christmas 2010, her last on this earth, using this post or something similar. It was a sweet Christmas and I know that she enjoyed it, too. I can’t even imagine what my list might be this year so I should really ponder it some; otherwise, the season will be gone and I’ll have missed it, Here’s to a peaceful, beautiful, meaningful Christ-centered holiday season!

Vee said...

Good heavens, Brenda. I just realized something after looking at your beautiful lace curtains and the sweet candles so Christmasy...I am copying you! Yes, I am. The inner blind on my bay window broke so I needed a cover-up. I don’t like light blocking curtains so opted for lace panels. Now I see the inspiration right here at your blog. All mine need is some added wamth.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is always such a great reminder! Love your heart for the Giver of the Season!

e l i z a b e t h ♥ said...

I love your many of the things you love to enjoy at Christmas are also favorites of mine. Thank you for the inspiration to make a little seasonal list of happy and cheerful the way, your blog looks most festive! I love it!

Wishing you and yours a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! ♥

Joy to you!

Judy said...

Thank you Brenda,

My Christmas is going to be very different this year and I am feeling unsettled in the anticipation of it. I think an intentional list might be a wise beginning.


Rebecca said...

Realized I have an unconscious list that includes many on YOUR list! My list gets shorter and simpler every year. I ALSO realize that while some items are definitely seasonal, others are incorporated as part of my lifestyle, making it Christmas all year 'round in some respects... Happy Thanksgiving!

Alva Lee said...

I've had your blog bookmarked for years but I don't comment often on any blog. However, this one and it's suggestion to make a list of substitutions for things you no longer do, hit home. Not only am I now retired and our income is smaller, but I have a couple of physical conditions that, as I always say, are not life-threatening, but are life-altering. Because of the unpredictability of these two conditions, I can no longer be counted on to do things I used to do. I'm the type of person who can only wallow so long and then I must act. So, one day I made a list of things I can do, even on my "bad" days. And I made a list of ways I can contribute to life on my good days. And I made a list of blessings I now have that I didn't have in former days, such as shopping from Amazon, and living next door to our five-year-old granddaughter. Once again I'm reminded that much of life is our perspective. And, by the way, you are one of my blessings because the beauty and peace of your blog and your approach to life helps keep my perspective focused on God. Thank you.