christmas... ah... christmas.
contrary to the commercial concept of this time of year of spending money, going further in debt, stressing about the crowds and busyness and keeping up with the jones's... christmas is to me is a time of traditions, family, and most of all Christ. christmas is my favorite time of year.
sights and smells and sounds create a warmth inside and a remembrance of happy times past as well as reflection of the declaration in the skies many years ago of tidings of great joy! peace on earth! goodwill towards men!
i can fall into the same temptation as everyone else of being so busy and consumed with the ever-growing checklist of all that december can bring, that i can lose sight of what this is my favorite time of year.
and so, i want to share with all my readers, ... a few of my favorite things.
snowy evergreens. there is something enchanting about evergreens kissed with sparkling snow even for someone like me who dislikes being cold. my sibling and i started a new tradition for this next generation of our family of going up to the very close snow capped mountains to cut down a christmas tree and play in the snow (since it doesn't snow where we live much more than once every couple years and it is even more rare for any of that to stick!). even though i am too much of a wimp to live in it, it is nice to live surrounded on 3 sides by snow covered mountains so we can take a short drive to enjoy the snow, but come back to a warm snow-free house.
silent night. every year, and i mean every year, my grandma (who is the most amazing pianist i know) plays a version of silent night on the piano that she has had memorized since she was 8. this in not one of the simple silent night sing-a-long arrangements, but a beautiful classical style, using the entire keyboard length, with running scales, delicate treble clef bells sounds, and deep resounding bass notes version of silent night. and equally enjoyable to listening to her play is to watch her beautiful piano hands dance on the ivory keys.
decorations. my grandma made us a christmas dome adorned with almost 100 small ornaments around wooden blocks custom to our individual family. she made these for all her kids and grandkids as they had families of their own. on mine is a grand piano, a guitar, a jeep, a toy train, and other things specific to our little family. on the top of each one she always puts the nativity scene because, after all, Jesus is the center of christmas. this nativity scene is one of many that adorn my house as our main decoration of choice to remind us wherever we look what this season is really about: Jesus, God eternal and yet Emmanuel, God with us, dwelling with us to bridge the gap between a Holy God and sinful humanity and becoming both the ultimate miracle and sacrifice that we may know God.
lefse. a traditional norwegian flat bread called lefse made from potatoes, cream, butter, flour, and salt, adorns our tables at christmas time. it is tradition for generations in my family in addition to many butter based norwegian cookies. we norwegians love us some butter! special foods are one of my favorite things about this time of year.
a look of wonder. i love the priceless looks of children who are full of wonder and excitement during christmas. the best part of giving gifts is to see them filled with delight and giggles. sparkling shiny eyes fill a parent's heart with joy. i am reminded that God is our Father and He too delights in giving good gifts to His children!
the music of laughter. i love all the sounds of delight and joy during family gatherings. i especially enjoy the laughter of my husband. my mom once said when we were newly married that she especially enjoyed watching bill watch tv because of how heartily he would laugh. (not having a tv any of our married life, we only watch it over at their house.) and laughter is contagious! i once told bill that my dad is the one who makes the hard things of life better, and that he is the one that makes me laugh in the thick of it all. christmas and time with family can especially be a time of laughter and joy, no matter what hard circumstances of life may surround us.
love. what a time to remember God's love for us, our love to Him in return, and the overflow to love for others. i love my family. i love my children. i am thankful that God gave me a family who have never neglected to show, live, and tell me i love you. others may not have had the same experience growing up in an obviously affectionate family, but now is always a perfect time to start with the next generation!
snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. i cannot resist the sweet faces of my children. i cannot resist the love and joy and thankfulness that wells up inside when i watch them experience the sights and sounds and smells with the newness of being a child. it reminds me to slow down, to reflect, to come as a child, that i too may experience the majesty of His creation.
life. one of my favorite things is this little guy will get to experience Christmas for the first time. being surrounded this year by so many trials, i do not take for granted this new little life that the Lord entrusted to us at a time such as this. i found out i was pregnant with him in the midst of one of the hardest assaults on hope i have ever had in my life. just a couple weeks before the Lord gave me a word for the new year that centered on the word life. it was cool to me at the time but took on a whole new level of meaning when in the days following i found out about some serious health battles my dad was facing. i clung to the word of life God spoke to me, Him not being surprised like i was at the health battle we as a family would have to walk through. i also clung to the positive pregnancy test i took a few weeks later, the day before my dad had to have surgery, just a small testimony that He would bring life out of all these trials. hope. and hope that does not disappoint us. that doesn't mean that everything in life just gets magically better and nothing bad or faith-trying ever happens. people get sick. loved ones die. relationships have strains. resources dry up. hope flickers even in the best of us. and yet, He promises to bring life, and life more abundantly to all who believe on His name.
...and this promise of life is definitely my favorite thing.
what are some of your favorites things about christmas?