Note to self and anyone else who might be listening: not such a great idea to go gallavanting around the country until halfway through the Advent season…I mean, it’s not like elves show up and do all the work for you.
Except that sometimes they do.
I don’t know how we can be so incredibly fortunate to have such wonderfully elvish friends. We arrived home to a house so clean it appeared that the carpets might have been raked (some combination of Dave and Paz on that one), a cheese and fruit plate awaiting us in the kitchen and fresh flowers in our bedroom (Victoria!) and everyplace we looked, wreaths were hung, mantels were decorated, and Santas smiled at us from every corner of the house.
The animals were all beautifully cared for in our absence – lots of fun walks for the dogs (thanks, Pamela and Victoria and Marie Christine!). Birdie gave us a little scare by injuring his leg (I’ve told him over and over again, no ju jitsu or ballroom dancing in the cage at night!) but seems to be recovering nicely. (Many thanks, Lori, Dan, Lauren and Chadd, for putting up with his troublesome and feathery little hindquarters!)
And Hope looks plump again – her feathers are growing back nicely, although she is still a bit wanting in the tail section.
After being away nearly three weeks, we are struck by the sheer number of tasks that must be done on a daily basis to manage hearth, home and herd here. We are deeply and humbly grateful to everyone who pitched in to keep it all going.
Now I just have to find someone to cover for me in the Christmas readiness department. I’ve already missed my Christmas card deadline, so we’ll be sending New Year’s greetings this year. Gifts will be fewer and much further between. We haven’t even begun to discuss a date to get the tree. It seems like the entire merrymaking operation is already too far behind to catch up.
Wherein, perhaps, lies an opportunity. I’m giving serious consideration to just hunkering down and focusing upon the Reason for the Season. I have a book called Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas that sits untouched on the shelf eleven months of the year, and sometimes, I confess, for all twelve. This year, in my utter failure to meet the expectations of the material, perhaps I will have some success with the spiritual.
A book I don’t have but which sounds like a great gift (hint! hint!) is Praying Advent: Three Minute Reflections on Peace, Faithfulness, Joy, and Light by Joan Mueller. The product description reads: “For many Christians, Advent and Christmas is their favorite season, yet they find themselves overshadowed with shopping, preparations for Christmas, unexpected snow and ice storms, holiday parties and endless other distractions. Although the tree might be decorated and the presents wrapped, Christmas sometimes simply falls upon us, our souls feeling woefully unprepared.” I think she’s talking to me!
I find the mystery of and the promise inherent in the birth of Christ to be soul-fulfilling, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. I did a web search to come up with alternative readings for my non-Christian readers but it came up woefully short. If you’re feeling charitable and open-minded, I suggest a reading of Mere Christianity, the great classic by C.S. Lewis.
And if you’re not, would you mind, instead, going out and doing all my shopping for me?