Thursday, November 27, 2008

Xmas is a comin' & the goose is gettin' fat ...................

Christmas is upon us! As soon as Canadian thanksgiving is over (mid October), I begin to think Christmas - it's my favorite holiday. And once we've passed Remembrance Day, I begin to put thoughts in action. Some people scoff when I put the wreath on the door Nov 12th. But really! There isn't a lot of time to accomplish what I want to do between Nov 11th and Dec 25th. And I derive so much joy from the preparations and the sharing. For me, being a Christian is not just about going to church on Sunday, and celebrating Christmas is not just about Dec 25th!

It's my feeling that Christmas traditions are extremely important to ones family. They add richness and depth; they not only build memories, but more importantly, they give roots to ones life and create connections that span the miles and the years. You can be set apart by your differences from the family next door and yet joined together by your sameness. You can be unique and yet still fit in. It's another part of what defines us as "Our Family".

Over the holidays, I often ask people, "What are your family traditions during Christmas?" And I love hearing the answers. As I age ... and the children grow and mature and leave the nest ... and I open up my house to share Christmas with those who don't have close family ... I not only share our traditions but will sometimes incorporate their traditions into the festivities. I'm constantly looking for ways to add to what is called "the season of joy and peace".

It doesn't matter to me that this season came out of a pagan festival. Nor does it matter that Dec 25th isn't really the birth day of Jesus Christ. My God was first. He is the origin - the source - the creator; and everything else was taken from His creation and is a reproduction. Just like my faith, the birth of Jesus is personal for me and deserves to be celebrated every bit as much as my own or my childrens' birth days. Jesus came to reconcile us to each other. And what better way for reconciliation to happen than doing things like sharing cookies with a non-Christian neighbour, or eating rugelach with a Jewish friend, or carolling with your church family - joining in with other during this season!

Over the next 27 days of preparations, let me share some of our traditions with you. In this time of personal "flux", I'm curious to see what my aging body and mind will permit me to bring to the Xmas table this year. I may not be able to climb to put the exterior Xmas lights up anymore; and yes, I know that when I eat that other piece of pie, it will stay with me. But those things are becoming more and more irrelevant in my life.

As Christmas approaches, I'm so full of thoughts and plans and excitement! So ...... think of my mind as a goose ... and it's a gettin fat!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The courtship of Autumn!

I've been 3 weeks into not exercising and BOY! Do I feel it. I'm not sleeping as well, my finger joints are beginning to ache, my pants are tighter, my mood is sometimes sour. Oh dear! I'm realizing that I need to do something as long as I can do something. So, it's goodbye once again to carefree days and evenings. I really enjoyed not having to go work-out! Maybe some yoga in the family room with the occasional turbo-kick will do the trick.

One thing I'm definately enjoying lately is the weather. It's cool and crisp and the trees are full of gold and red and orange hues -- it's like being surrounded by all this warmth amidst the coolness of autumn. The apples are so sweet and crunchy, and we're eating lots of fragrant stews and soups with dense, crusty breads. Everyone's wearing their slippers, and throw blankets are on every chair.

When I walk, I love the air on my cheeks and the feeling that everything's clean and fresh. I love the smell of the woodfire from my neighbours house, the feel of my soft, fleece gloves on my hands and the way my "cushiony" Clarks hug my feet without sufficating them. I like the way my aching limbs slowly warm and loosen up, the swing of my arms, the different sounds all around me (dogs, trucks, children, leaves being raked, wood being chopped) -- and the fact that amongst all the sounds, my mind dwells on the beauty that God has created and how wonderfully and fearfully we are made. And I praise Him as I walk.

This is the first year I've ever knowingly enjoyed fall. I'm a spring person! But my eyes, ears and senses are opening to the beauties of autumn. It's no longer just a passage-way to Christmas, my favorite holiday. I feel it calling me to embrace it's changes in color and it's slower pace; to listen and be aware of the call to thanksgiving for the season just past - a season of sunshine and seashores, warmth and growth and bountiful harvest. And as the evenings get longer and I slow down and rest more, wrapped in my favorite sweater, my hands cupped around a mug of dark, hot chocolate, the candlelight flickering and soft worship music playing, I have a feeling of security and love and well-being and joy. The simple things in life are far more valuable than gold and silver. And then I come to the recognition that autumn is wooing me -- both with the season and with my aging process. And it's okay!

God's in His house and all's right with the world.