Simply Christmas

HI! Long time no chat…or something.

Well, December is here. I don’t even know how but it is. I love the holidays! I love the smells and sights and really ALL THE THINGS. Like, for instance I have an unusual love for wrapping paper. I have a big box full of wrapping supplies. I showed my collection to a friend and she said I needed an intervention. Really I think she was just being dramatic. Everyone knows that having plenty of wrapping paper and not having to go purchase more (at full price, by the way) is not cool. I never buy wrapping paper at full price. Yes, I am one of those wackadoos that is in Walmart the day after Christmas preparing for next year. But the paper is pretty and cheap. Can I get an amen?!

I didn’t actually come on here after a super long departure to tell you about my wrapping paper love, but to talk about the holidays in general.

As Advent approached (which in case you didn’t know it technically starts Sunday December 3rd this year, but the calendar does this weird thing where there are 25 days on the Advent calendar but only 23 in Advent so do with that information what you will) (also in that last parenthesis I almost quoted the West Wing but didn’t so you are welcome or maybe I’m sorry. Whatever. You decide.)

Good grief, stay with the topic, Teri!

Advent. Holidays.

I know I am not the only one that feels like they’ve been put in an Instant Pot (I love my instant pot, by the way) and left on full pressure the entire holiday season. It can be so intense and you feel like it experienced you rather than you it. All through the year any time the thought of the holidays or especially Christmas came up I had two thoughts.

  1. We are slowing this train down this year.
  2. It’s Zack’s last Christmas at home before college. (cue the tears and feelings)

I don’t want to remember any more holidays seasons where I just remember a blur of things that I wanted perfect that ended up looking less like a Rockwell painting and more like a 3 year-old’s finger painting. I can’t keep doing the chaos. I just can not.

It was time to release the pressure in the pot and allow the lid to be opened.

The tree has less ornaments on it this year. Rather than decades of ornaments filling the space it is a picture of a family. A family of 4. From Baby’s First to present year the lives of my children are hung on the tree. From Bob the Builder to the Walking Dead to Drivers Permits and a Graduation Cap the things that are most important to them in that year are part of the story of who we are as a family. It’s not glamorous and you will never see it in a magazine but it’s perfect and simple.

All our decorating is simple this year. A few favorite items displayed but even the Rockwell Santa picture stayed tucked away. Why? Because I chose quality over quantity. Would the picture be pretty as it always is hung in the living room? You bet! But having it out never made it more Christmas, it was just added things.

I want less added things. The things we cherish most don’t live in a box anyway. So if we do less and we slow down then maybe we’ll have more of the sweetness of this season.

We didn’t buy the kids gifts this year. Nothing will be under the tree on Christmas morning and we are all completely content with that. Instead we are taking a family trip, just the four of us. Which that in itself is a gift to me from Jim as I’ve been begging for it for awhile. Our theory as we planned this trip was that none of us need anything except time with each other. The wrapping paper can wait until next year and I might not even buy any new rolls on the day after Christmas.

Even our Bible study this year is simple but beautiful. We are doing the She (and He) Reads Truth Advent study. Those sweet people put together some great books and resources and we’ll be happily going along without a stress of doing it right.

Can I just release us all and say there is no right? The cookies will taste fine if you allow the kids to help. The smallest gestures usually mean the most. The last thing I want this year is for this conversation to play out: “Wheres Mom?” “Oh, she’s off doing (fill in the blank with one of the many required festive but time consuming things)” “She would have liked to see this”. No, thanks! So maybe or maybe not you’ll get cards from us this year, but if not, just know I was too busy being with my people because Jesus wasn’t born so I could send Christmas cards.

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In The Morning (Giveaway Winner Announcement)


Hi y’all! I owe you all a tremendous apology. I had said that I would be posting my next post with the contest winner on May 14th but I had no idea what was coming. Due to circumstances so far out of my control and beyond anything that I expected for that week I just could not post. Truly y’all did not want to read the things in my head over the last two weeks and it has taken me until now to clear my head enough to give you all something more than a jumbled mess.

Psalm 30:5b has been on my heart over the past few days. It says

“Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.”

“Joy comes in the morning”, huh? Well, two weeks full of mornings have happened and I haven’t fully located the illusive joy. Then I realized that the seven days that the Word says it took God to create the earth wasn’t OUR seven days but His so “the morning” probably isn’t in my time either. And because I think this is MY world instead of His I have ever so kindly mentioned to God that I feel like He needs to get it together and do things on my time because He takes too long.

Let me back up about 2 weeks. On Wednesday May 17th, my Dad left this earth and walked into eternity. He battled leukemia until his body said it was done.

Grief demands so much more of us than we are ever willing to give. It shatters even the hardest of exteriors and brings us to our knees.

I wish I could tell you that I immediately clung to God’s word and that made everything okay but I sadly didn’t. I had to circle back around. I was angry. I wanted joy in the morning and I wanted it instantaneously. I wanted to feel better and understand why the restoration that I long for won’t happen on earth. I wanted to know why God had put so many words on my heart that I wanted to say to Dad but I never could. Why all the words if I wasn’t given the chance to say them?!

We have all heard it, said it, experienced that we are all bound by space and time and even in our wildest attempts to understand it all we really understand very little. There will always be questions left unanswered, too many questions to list. Heaven is our hope for unanswered questions.

Joy, come in the morning.

As Zack told me today “Mom, joy in the morning is a choice”. Yes, it is but it’s also a process when we are dealing with deeper issues than a regular old bad day. After a rough day, when we choose to see the positive, we know that joy and peace will be waiting on us in the morning. But what about those situations that are not so easy?

I think the difference between the ability to choose joy and processing grief is reality. Knowing that the bad day is small and won’t have a large impact on the tomorrows. Whereas loss leaves a hole and forces you to search for a new reality. It can’t be immediately swept up into the dustpan and filed under “dealt with” because the holes of loss are vacancies that cannot be patched, mended, or filled. No matter how hard we try it is still there.

Memories soften the sharp edges loss leave, they make finding joy in the morning possible.

Now for the fun stuff!

The winner of the Choose Joy Signboard is….

 

 

 

 

Penny Wright!

Congratulations!

Please e-mail your address to graceandgigglesblog@yahoo.com

 

 

Brighter Days And A Giveaway!


Like violets, primroses, or other shade thriving flowers I too prefer the shade to the full sun. I am not one to take on the fullness of any spotlight. Actually, I prefer to shrink back and allow others to bear the breath and beauty of it. I am happy to cheer others on from the shade.

The irony that I blog about our lives and yet prefer a small, shaded life to a loud and bright one does not escape my attention but such is my reality.

Recently I felt the sun shining too much on me and I was fully prepared to walk away from it. Matter of fact, I had said out loud “I don’t want to write anymore” And it wasn’t because I have a massive following or anything like that but because I felt a myself being pulled from the shade and into the sun. I’m not a full sun kind of flower.

Shortly after making my statement about not wanting to write anymore I told three people. The first listened calmly and gave the advice to pray about it. The second listened less calmly, told me that yes I need to pray about it, but I also need to face my fear rather than hiding. The third (does this feel like Goldilocks to anyone else?) agreed with the other two but also told me if I was going to be stupid I was not allowed to talk. Mixed with aggravation they found enough grace to offer that people read my words and even if I don’t think so, my words matter to others.

But it’s bright and a little scary out in the sun!

I know we are all afraid of something. Being seen, being fully known, being misunderstood, being helpless, being too much, being not enough. My fear of stepping out and being seen hinders me on a regular basis. I push back and give in to the lie that there is someone better for the job. Surely I am not what the world needs, but then I remember what Jim asked me a few days ago when we were talking about how I felt like not enough. He said “If a friend said that to you, what would you say back?” A million things came flooding out because I see everyone else’s value and enough-ness miles and miles away but I cannot see my own. Because my own is in the shadows.

So if I see your enough-ness and you can see mine then I propose we take small steps into the sun together. Sunglasses and hats on and ready to walk out of the shadow of fears and lies and into the glory of the sun.

Now, for a fun giveaway!

A precious friend decided she wanted to sponsor a giveaway on the blog. So, that’s what we’re going to do!

One winner will receive this beautiful wood framed signboard from Smallwood Home (size 26×26).


So, how do you enter to win? It’s super easy! Go to this post on Grace and Giggle’s Facebook page, this post, and tag three friends in this post’s comments. That’s it. The winner will be selected next Sunday and announced here on the blog.