Friends, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences with “toxic positivity.” Your comments on that blog entry and long exchanges on Facebook and Instagram have had my wheels turning all week. I am thankful to be surrounded by people who place a high value on authenticity as well as deliberate hopefulness, joyfulness, and faith.
The week before last week we were finishing up a fun little seasonal cold or flu or who knows what and scraped together enough energy to dive headfirst into Christmas. Our house had been decorated for a festive winter since right after Halloween, haha, including dried citrus garland everywhere, paperwhites potted up, and lots of plain evergreens with white lights; but as soon as the Thanksgiving feast was cleared away we surrendered it all to truly Christmas, and I have been adding fun stuff daily. Handsome surprised me one day while I was out running by adding the house lights and constructing our Santa sleigh, inflatables, you name it. Every year he does something new and festive, and I love it.
Christmas activities have kept us busy already, too.
Early in the month, with our friends Rex and Cathy, we tried a local fried chicken spot that was built in what used to be an actual feed store and lumber yard. In fact it was the first place we ever bought farm supplies when we moved here in 2007. After a delicious, greasy, filling meal the four of us watched the Harrah Christmas parade and let that really cement our holiday spirit. Then our three pups exchanged early gifts, ha! They are like children, no joke, ripping through wrapping paper and wrestling around the living room. Pure joy!
On a different morning, we took Klaus to our traditional Cowboy Christmas parade in Cowtown. We shivered and chattered our teeth and waved our cold, numb hands at all the heavily festooned float characters and “reindeer” horses, not to mention the state’s best Santa. Our friends from the Jedi OKC group had entered a float for the first time, and when everyone saw us they waved and screamed Klaus’ name, ha! So fun!
This past Sunday night we hosted a perfectly ridiculous Christmas party for friends, opting for a Griswold family vacation movie theme. Ha! I am married to the Clarkiest of Clark, after all. It was silly and lighthearted, a great release of tension for everyone in the midst of a busy season. Everyone brought delicious treats. We played a couple of dumb games. Old friends got caught up and new friends got acquainted. We even surprised the newlyweds in our friends’ group with a one month anniversary cake! They had eloped to Vegas exactly one month before the party, so it was perfect. High fives and big cheers for random, laughter filled parties that eschew tradition a little bit.
One weeknight after work we drove to Oklahoma City to hear Chloe, our oldest niece, play her violin. Her school orchestra has performed every December for several years, and it always sets the holiday tone for me. Our entire local family tries to attend all at once, and we take up a long row, usually right up front. I can hardly stand to think of one or two Christmases from now, when she will have graduated high school and there is no Christmas concert to enjoy. This year they were invited to play at the Oklahoma City University performing arts center, and they treated us to a nearly perfect rendition of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Stunning! We all had chills. Great job as always, Chloe!
On another night, Cathy, Jessica and I piled into my car to drive to the Community College to watch our youngest niece Kenzie dance a hip hop version of the Nutcracker. If you ever have a chance to see this, friends, secure your tickets and do not look back. How awe-inspiring to watch these talented young people dance their hearts out! And the hip hop was a great twist on a classic story. We loved it. As a bonus, the night we attended was narrated in full Spanish. I am actively relearning Spanish for Jess and Alex, so that was a fun challenge to keep up with what was being said!
As I write this, most of our gifts are wrapped, leaving only the stockings to be stuffed with treasure, plus some baking and a few easy gatherings still to enjoy. I am luxuriating in the freedom to slow down on weeknights and make fun plans for us on weekends, to enjoy the holiday season for all it offers. The fast, the slow, the loud and glittering and the soft spoken and cozy. I am staying home as much as possible, taking time every day to stay centered on the Nativity and really sink into the cold and the dark when it comes. It’s all a gift. And the invitation to be still and accept the gift has never pulsed more vividly.
Do you feel Christmas miracles brewing in the distance? I really do. I feel lots of them building steam to get here at their appointed times, so much so that the traditional gifts and cookies and music are just set dressing. Beautiful decorations for our spirit, to invite us to Enjoy. Rejoice. Choose Joy.
All of this goodness, all of this Soul Cake, already in our bellies, and today is only December 16th. We have so much December still to feast on!
More soon. Till then, happy December! I hope your are celebrating and carpe-ing every single diem to your heart’s content. I hope you are clinging to the miracles you need and crave. Here are a few Advent posts from last year, if you need them: