2: bold, steady
This time of year heralds my favorite season. I love cooking for Thanksgiving: from buying the right sized turkey, to cooking the cranberries for the dressing to starting the sweet potato casserole a few days ahead of time. It all makes me happy and content. Over the course of our fifteen year marriage, we've done the holidays many different ways. Our first Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent alone - just the two of us in Columbus, Ohio. For several years thereafter, we rotated between our families, spending Thanksgiving at home and Christmas on the road to either Alabama or Wisconsin. Then three or four years ago, A and B began asking when they would get to have Christmas at their house. This coincided with A performing in Nashville Ballet's Nutcracker for the first time, so it was a blessing to not have to load up and leave town the day she finished performing. When we made that switch, we traveled at Thanksgiving and spent Christmas at home. Until this year.
J's new job requires that we be in town Thanksgiving weekend. So we traveled over fall break and will celebrate the holidays here at home. With fall break's travels behind us, I was looking forward to being home, settled in and cooking all our favorites. That is, until K began expressing - loudly and frequently - that she was not happy to be home for Thanksgiving, that it was not fun to have just the five of us together, that it was not recent enough to have visited family last month. This was hard for me. I like to be content and I want others around me content.
As J and I sat up late one night discussing my fear that K's discontent would wreak havoc with not just Thanksgiving, but Christmas, he encouraged me to be resolute. K's attitude had made me feel like I was being selfish and lazy. Selfish to want time together just our family. Lazy to not want to spend 20 hours in the car at the end of a very busy month. J reminded me that I didn't make these decisions alone - we decided together. Then he asked an insightful question: "What is it you like so much about Christmas?" His theory is that by focusing on the things I like, I'll be better equipped to withstand K's storms. In short, my joy will make me resolute.
My immediate answer was that what I love about Christmas is the anticipation. I love waiting for the 25th to arrive. I love the way my house looks different during December than any other time of the year. (Christmas decorating is the only thing that ever makes cleaning enjoyable.) I love the foods we eat only this time of year. I love remembering baking cookies with my grandmother and dreaming about baking with my own grandchildren someday. I love that Christmas is different from any other time of the year.
Given all of this, I decided Advent's anticipation couldn't start too soon around here. Yesterday we decorated the mantle. Today we put the Christmas tree up. That's right - the day before Thanksgiving. If Christmas is what lightens my heart, the Christmas season is what we're going to usher in around here.
Even a morning of Christmas tree decorating followed by a movie has led to some grumbling from K. I wasn't moving fast enough this morning. (Imagine me wanting to drink coffee before retrieving ornaments from the basement? The nerve!) I tried to be steady and remember that all of our decorating doesn't have to be done in one day. I tried to remember that K's dissatisfaction doesn't have to lead to discouragement on my part. I'm trying to be resolute in my pursuit of an Advent that's not perfect, but meaningful. One that's not spent anticipating gifts, but gift giving. I want to spend this Advent with an anticipatory heart that's resolute in making this Advent one of worship, thoughtfulness and service.