Archive for December, 2008

December 24, 2008

Pondering Christmas

This Year’s Tree

2008 Christmas treeMy flat is small and fairly full of furniture and “stuff”, so Christmas trees are difficult to house. In previous years I’ve kept a 3-foot tree with sentimental ornaments, but this year I couldn’t even find it in the storage room. This little tree, 2-foot (if that), was a table decoration for Connection Cafe last year, and it seemed an adequate substitute. I’ve rather enjoyed it, in fact. And though it has little to offer and cannot support regular ornaments, it’s really not such a bad little tree.

Favorite Ornaments

family ornamentsChimney Sweep
When I was a teenager, my parents purchased a series of ornaments based on cultures around the world, and when my sisters and I began to divide amongst ourselves, I chose these first two ornaments to keep. I think they represent Norway and China. There is nothing special about them specifically, but they are sentimental to me. And that makes me smile every year when I pull them out of the box.

The third ornament, this little chimney sweep, came from a seasonal shop in Midway Mall, Sherman, where I worked for a time after college. The shop contained all manner of gifts from Bavaria, and I fell in love with this ornament as soon as I saw him. He reminds me of Mary Poppins, and that always makes me happy. Though it’s not terribly “Christmasey”, this ornament is one of my very favorites.

Favorite Decorations

Little by little I am collecting decorations for my own little home, and I have come to appreciate them more and more as the years go by. Though I’m not building memories with a family of my own, I do treasure these pieces and always enjoy setting them up at Christmastime.

This village is one of the miniature versions but really creates a mood when set up on a small bookshelf. I would like to add to them eventually when there is more space, but right now I look at this scene and picture a small town Christmas where everyone knows each other and celebrates the season as a community. Like Whoville, without the Grinch.
Christmas Village

The nativity scene shown below is not the one from my childhood, though I still own that gem, but rather is a ceramic set that my grandmother always intended to complete. After her death, my mom found it in a box of unfinished pieces and decided it would be perfectly beautiful if it was simply glazed instead of painted in detail. The finished set took our breath away, and I was the fortunate one who got to keep it. To make it pop, I use sparkled navy felt on the wall behind the scene, which helps take your mind to that blessed night so long ago.
Nativity scene

And the following three figures are my favorite pieces purchased on my own through the years. First is the only “Santa” item I own, one that evokes Father Christmas rather than a jolly ole dude. I find it much more suited to the spirit of Christmas and love this depiction more than any others I’ve seen because of the lantern he is holding and the zebra at his feet. This is my idea of that benevolent soul of long ago.

Father Christmas and Seussian trees

The other two images are indicative of my personal brand of humor, more Seussian than traditional. I especially love the trio of Trees for the absolute joy they convey. Give me a holiday that is slightly off-kilter and that is a perfect time.

Traditions

Growing up, my family always spent Christmas Eve with a few specific foods and huddled around a game board. Now that my sisters and I are grown, we’ve tailored this tradition to our own tastes but have kept many of the same foods in the mix. Christmas Eve triple stack Though vastly different, the two items pictured here represent my entire life. My earliest Christmas Eve memories always include these triple stacks of hot dogs, cheddar cubes and pineapple chunks on a toothpick skewer, and they were usually eaten with chips and green onion dip on the side. I’m sure this was originally created to keep the costs down, but we loved them so much that they reappeared year after year. We don’t have it so much anymore, but I always think of these when I think of Christmas Eve.

Swedish Tea RingMy mother’s masterpiece is surely this Swedish Tea Ring. She makes it every year during the holidays, and often makes it throughout the year for paying customers. It looks amazing, has a wonderful sweet-bread flavor, and never fails to get rave reviews. My nephews can eat 10 slices in one sitting and come back an hour later for more. It is without a doubt a staple in my family, and it will be a sad day when Mom can no longer make it for us. We cherish these days right now.

Christmas Playlist

Although I try to purchase one new Christmas CD each year, I still pull out the same CDs each November and play them constantly throughout the holidays. Many favorites have emerged, but these are the ones that I love the most. My taste in music has always been quite varied, and this group is a perfect reflection.

Diana Krall, Christmas Songs / Christina Aguilera, My Kind of Christmas / Kenny Loggins, December / Sarah McLachlan, Wintersong
Christmas CDs

Linda Eder, Christmas Stays the Same / SHeDAISY, Brand New Year / MercyME, The Christmas Sessions / Mariah Carey, Merry Christmas
Christmas CDs

Movies

It’s simply not Christmas for me without visits to Bedford Falls, the Peanuts Gang and those Miser Brothers.

The Year Without a Santa Claus

It's a Wonderful Life  A Charlie Brown Christmas

Books

I pull these books out each year to remind me of the joys that can be found during the hectic days of the season.

Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg  The Snow Queen, as illustrated by Mary Engelbreit

Treasured Gift

beaded crossMy friend Susan made this cross for me one year and it has become my most treasured gift. Not only was it tailored to the colors in my home, but it was made with much care and many scratches on her hands from bending the wire. The cross hangs in my living room and is a constant reminder of Susan and her friendship.

These are the best kinds of gifts.
 
 
 
 
 

December 5, 2008

laid bare

To be fully open and laid bare, completely honest and willing to accept judgement and condemnation… how does one find the courage to do such a thing? It’s so much easier to be forthright in the quiet moments with God than to be accountable to a humanity that will recoil and retreat upon hearing a truth they were not expecting. How do we willingly subject ourselves to such rejection? Why would we ask to be wounded in such a way?

The strength to be laid bare comes only from the LORD, comes only with the help of my Savior Jesus. But that doesn’t take away the sting. There is no sin without consequences, but how to be ready to accept those consequences when you know they must come? How do you prepare for the inevitable? How do you tear down the pride and the fear? How do you rise above your own humanity?

Words are little comfort when people cannot rise above their own reactions. The journey is mine with God Most High. Until I can accept that I may always walk alone on this earth I cannot find the strength to be brutally honest and fully accountable. Such failure is a fear of man, and such is my fear. Having lived a life of insecurity that arose from childhood rejections, it seems impossible now to open myself to public judgement. I know that strength comes from the LORD but my arms cannot seem to find it. My heart fails me. My mind fears. And the chains remain intact.

Oh, to be like David, full of confidence in the face of a giant. My mind knows the sovereignty of the LORD, my intellect assures me of the Truth, but my heart fails me time and again.

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