|A small snowflake ornament made of clear melted beads hangs on a Christmas tree|
The rhythm of time passing should not surprise me--after all, that is our experience here on earth--and yet I find myself constantly amazed at how another week/month/year has come and gone. In a blink of an eye, we are now in December and the Christmas season. I love Christmas!
1. I'm thankful for decorations. The tree is up, lights are hung, nativities adorn the house. Stockings are hung in anticipation of little ones visiting. Someone asked me this week what my tree looks like. I'm a sentimental tree decorator. I didn't even realize until not that long ago that some people have themes for their trees that are anything other than "a hodge-podge of ornaments made and collected over the years, each with a history that brings memories flooding back." At this point in my life, I have more ornaments than tree space, so not every ornament goes up each year. I always find room for the small clear snowflake near the top of the tree, though. When I was a child, every year when we decorated the tree, my mom would tell us again about the first Christmas she and my dad celebrated after they were married. They didn't have much money, but learned that if they put some clear beads in a muffin tin and put the tin in the oven, the beads would melt and they would have snowflakes to decorate their tree. Those beaded snowflakes, strings of popcorn, and a star made of the same beads as the snowflake (melted in a mold fashioned out of aluminum foil) were all of the ornaments on the tree that year. Every year when I hang that little snowflake on my tree, I appreciate my mom's ingenuity and ability to make sweet memories. Money doesn't grow on trees, but love is always represented on my Christmas trees.
2. I'm thankful for trees. Growing up in Oregon, we always had a real tree, and couldn't fathom anything otherwise. As an adult not living in the land of abundant evergreens, I reluctantly made the switch to an artificial tree. Artificial trees do have advantages: cost output is a one-time thing, you don't have to worry about keeping it watered, and there isn't nearly as much needle-drop. The one big thing I miss, though, is the smell. I tried those hang-up scent sticks, but it just isn't the same. I went to a party last night and the hosts had a real tree. I plopped myself down right next to it and enjoyed every intake of breath during the entire evening.
3. I'm thankful for holiday parties. Don't misunderstand; I am not a social butterfly. I can almost feel myself retreating further into myself in crowds of people or noisy venues. However, I am not totally anti-social, either. This week I had the chance to go to a church women's party and also to a neighbor's Christmas party. I enjoyed both events.
4. I'm thankful for books. The neighbor's Christmas party is an annual event, and the theme (besides Christmas) is books. A Christmas trivia game is followed by a white-Elephant type book exchange. Everyone brings a book, and puts an inscription inside telling why this book is a favorite of the giver. The invited guests are mainly people from outside my neighborhood, but who are beginning to be familiar from this yearly event. There is a wide range of interests represented in the group, which leads to being introduced to books I might not otherwise be aware of. All in all, a really fun night.
5. I'm thankful for extended family. We were able to spend some time yesterday with my sister-in-law's father, while she and my brother-in-law went out to celebrate her birthday. We enjoyed a John Wayne movie and part of the first Harry Potter movie (he's a huge fan!) while they were out. It's so nice to live close enough now to be able to do things like that.
6. I'm thankful for Drexel. He is really a good dog, and was happy for the extra attention from visitors this week.
7. I'm thankful for pets in general. Our youngest daughter got permission from her housing worker this week to have a cat, so John and I took her to the animal shelter on Friday and she picked out a big, plush cat that was listed as a "DSH" (domestic short hair), but which sure looks to me (and to my phone's ID feature) like a Scottish fold.
|Charlie the grey cat with green eyes and folded ears|
8. I'm thankful for traditions. Our oldest daughter, knowing that we already enjoy the advent calendar we use every year, also suggested another one in addition. John and I are now enjoying a daily tiny jar of jam. John's comment: "We're going to need more English muffins." My favorite flavor so far: "Orange, Yuzu and Grapefruit." I had to look up yuzu, because I was unfamiliar with it and it is delicious, and what did I find? It "can be grown in regions with winters as low as 16° F!" Of course, we can get lower than that here, but now I'm wondering if I can grow it in a pot outside for most of the year and just bring it in on cold nights. Hmmm. . .
9. I'm thankful for shared tickets. A friend had tickets to a live nativity event, but was unable to use them and let John and I go in her place. We had never been to this particular event before, but we really enjoyed it. There were long lines of people, but it added to the atmosphere, as I could imagine crowds headed toward Bethlehem. Roman soldiers directed us toward Bethlehem. We walked past sheep, shepherds, and camels before arriving at the town. Once there, we were instructed to pay our taxes and we walked past stalls of craftsmen. Once past the townsfolk, we walked past donkeys and cattle, and met wise men who instructed us to follow the star. Along the path toward the building under the star was a young woman playing carols on the violin. We arrived at a small building, and the man outside the door asked if he could tell us a story before we entered. He said that 19 years ago, he lost his wife to pancreatic cancer. Shortly after her death, he dreamed that he raised a million dollars for the Huntsman Cancer Research Center by putting on a play. When he woke up, he told his daughter about the dream and mentioned how impossible that would be, since he neither sings nor acts. His daughter suggested that they put on a live nativity. He said that would be a great idea for next year, but his daughter insisted they do it that year. It was October, but they managed to pull it off by December. Nineteen years later, it has evolved into a major event.
After telling us his story, he opened the door and we entered a quiet, dark building. Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus were portrayed there. Jesus was sleeping. Joseph and Mary gently stroked his head and kissed him. It was a tender scene. I didn't take photos in this room because I didn't want to post photos of a real baby without permission, but here are some photos from earlier in the event:
|One of the stalls in Bethlehem, where women were making yarn goods|
|Another stall in Bethlehem, this one with food|
|John standing in front of an enormous camel|
10. I'm thankful for John. I am so glad we are on this journey of life together.