Friday, December 23, 2011

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with the flocks,

then the work of Christmas begins:

... to find the lost,

to heal those broken in spirit,

to feed the hungry,

to release the oppressed,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among all peoples,

to make a little music with the heart…

And to radiate the Light of Christ,

every day, in every way,

in all that we do and in all that we say.

Then the work of Christmas begins.

-- Howard Thurman, adapted
Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases and a blessed New Year.
May we do the work of Christmas all year long.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Welcome Winter

This morning I saw a moon sliver, framed by birch silhouettes, in the most stunningly clear, crisp, inky blue winter sky. We rounded the corner and the magic was lost, but the image is burned in my head. It echoed Silent Night to me and reminded me to slow down and bask in the wonder of the holiday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

To Do Now or Later: Traditions

I'm a sucker for traditions. Yours... mine... those of people I've never met, doesn't matter. I enjoy reading about traditions and then figuring out how to incorporate them into my own if it's feasible to do so.

For the last seven years, one of our traditions has been to alternate holidays with our families: Thanksgiving in Baker, Christmas in San Diego, then the following year Thanksgiving in San Diego, Christmas in Baker, repeat. This has worked out really well and we always know what to do, where we're going, and what to expect when we get there.

This year, however, the family unanimously decided it would be best if we stayed in Oregon for Christmas and come to visit later when flights are more reasonable. While it's nice to not have to make travel plans or cry over plane tickets and ridiculous surcharges, I am feeling a bit lost. This has led to many conversations about making our own traditions.

While we have incorporated some of our families' traditions - I am making the Bentley brisket for the Monday Night Posse Christmas party on Monday and always fill stockings to overflowing in true Henshaw fashion, for example - we have not really made our own as a couple.

That's not to say there aren't things we do every year - like get a tree as soon as our schedule and finances allow, watch ELF, and buy a picture frame ornament to mark a moment in the last year (something we've been doing since 2006, the year before we married). We just don't have anything that's really ours.

It's a little late this year, but we are talking about traditions we want to establish now and then can modify or add to when we have children. This came out of a conversation in which I said something to the effect of, "I have lots of traditions, we just can't do them until we have little people," and Jason replied, "Stop trying to write me out of this! I want to be part too!"

I was a bit convicted by that statement. I am one who gets quite annoyed when people say, "When we have kids we'll x, y, z," or, "We're not going to do that until we by a house..." (within reason, of course there are some things you can't do until an earlier requirement has been filled), meanwhile life is happening now and they are missing it waiting for the next thing.

When we have children, they'll be around for 20 years; the time we have now is ours and I want to spend it making beautiful memories with my husband. That'll make Christmases with babies all the more sweet.

What are your traditions?

As long as I'm at AMC, this may well become a tradition.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter Reflections

Look not mournfully into the past.
It comes not back again.
Wisely improve the present.
It is thine.
Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear. 
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~

The red, gold, green, and white has come out of their boxes. Christmas music has been my companion for three weeks and the chill is in the air. Amidst the joyous chaos that is the holiday season, I find myself reflecting more and more on this last year and all the changes in store for us in the coming year. As a culture, we tend to think of January 1 as a clean slate, though it's not really true: it's merely a continuation of whatever we set in motion the year before.

Two years have passed since I had my meltdown. A year ago I was a barely functioning exoskeleton. The contrast between this year and last at this time is stark and beautiful. I am overwhelmed by the love and encouragement I received from those dearest to me and my heart overpours with gratitude for those who came alongside us and helped bear the load - emotionally, physically, and financially. I am so blessed. We are so blessed.

I feel such hope for the next year. More intense than the hope I felt while surrounded by the Monday Night Posse on New Year's Eve and more real. Does that even make sense? I'm not paralyzed by fear - I'm excited!

As we spend time with our family and friends in the coming weeks, sharing meals, exchanging gifts, playing games, and generally enjoying each other's company I want to have in the forefront of my mind the central purpose of the holiday I celebrate - the simple, beautiful gift that was given to mankind - and the gift I was given this year that will not end when the clock strikes Midnight on January 1.