Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Spirit

I was lying in bed early this morning, stretching,
 and relishing the fact that I had plenty of time to simply lie there
enjoy the warm coziness
for a change

and my thoughts ran to Christmas.

Now, generally, when my thoughts run to any upcoming event
I'm barraged by my mental
"to-do" list
and have a rush of panic at 
how much there is still to be accomplished.
There is the accompanying guilt
"why didn't you start earlier",
and the feeling of being slightly overwhelmed
followed by the big
"why am I perpetually in this cycle"

For many,
Christmas can be a big guilt inducer . . . 
when you consider that bloggers all around the world are bombarding
us with the beautiful gifts and decorations they've made from scratch

and the stories of how they're helping to save the world
living the ultimate
"green lifestyle"
and how all their gifts are made from
100% recycled trash
thereby saving the planet
while stunning their friends and families with their
time management.

But this morning I simply shooed away that demon
thought about the Christmas memories
that stood out from my 

I recalled fragrances:
real evergreens 
cookies baking
hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks
clove studded orange pomanders
popcorn being strung
ham baking
ripe pears
nuts toasting
hot waffles

I recalled being surrounded by family . . . 
(there were five generations of family when I was small).
Grands and great grands and great great grands!
There were aunts and uncles and greats to boot.
There was a plethora of cousins,
and neighborhood friends took up where the cousins left off.

There were Christmas trees - 
one in each home
of all these relatives and neighbors,
and the grandaddy Christmas tree of them all:
the tree in our little church.
I believe it must have been 25 foot high,
(but then I'm sure it only seemed that way).
Lights and ornaments were unique on each tree, 
so every one was a small miracle
and delight!

Our neighbor had a molded, white plastic tree
whose branches looked somewhat like combs . . . 
the most wonderful and "modern" tree . . .
it was always decorated in a single color,
and I seem to remember one year especially
when the tree was all in blue!
Ahhhh . . . 
so much more sophisticated than our hodge-podge family tree,
brimming with the handmade ornaments and paper chains
and the eggshell collages my mother lovingly crafted!
We had some family heirloom ornaments
and the precious ones my mother made
and the 
school paste and macaroni and glitter ones,
and out tree was breathtaking!
We literally held our breath while the light cord was plugged in.
The final touch was my mother painstakingly adding the silvery tinsel . . . 
one single strand at a time
in perfect symmetry.

I remember my mother using specific gift wrap for the gifts from family
and then, secretly, after we children were asleep, 
wrapping the 
Santa gifts
 in a unique paper - so it would be obvious that he
had brought certain presents
 from his workshop at the North Pole!

When I was old enough to know what was going on,
 I was privileged to stay up late and help her wrap those Santa gifts
for my younger siblings.
My first role was to lend my finger to hold the knot securely in the ribbon while she tied a bow.

We finished special baking details, and sometimes prepared the turkey stuffing.
I was a entrusted with tearing bread into cubes and crumbling cornbread.
It was a right of passage I'll always treasure!

Every year our church had a Christmas pageant.
It was traditionally the story of Jesus' birth
in the manger in Bethlehem.
There were speaking roles and non speaking roles
and members of all ages took parts appropriate to their age, size and ability.

I was often a part of the pageant, 
and loved the rehearsals, the costuming, the music, the lighting
and all the adrenaline rush of the production.

It felt so real, and so holy and I was filled with awe!
Luke's recounting of the nativity event
came alive
and it seemed we were whisked across the world to that very sight
on that
 very important silent night.

I treasure so many wonderful memories
of Christmas!
The best are the feelings of being loved
and the wonder of so many relatives and friends gathered together,
and the abundance of delicious treats on the table,
the wonder of Jesus being born
in the city of Bethlehem,
beneath that shining star!

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