How’s your holiday wind-up going? OR, are you more of a holiday wind-down person?
Other days we’re sluggish and want to binge-watch all the familiar holiday shows with predictable endings.
It’s dizzying to be cast us into these extremes, yet it’s probably familiar territory to most of us.
Yesterday as I was shifting from a morning full of appointments to an afternoon at home facing a lengthy to-do list, I caught myself pausing to browse our family album of Christmas photo cards.
I smiled as I remembered the angst of assembling outfits for professional photos at my son’s preschool. I reflected on the fun trips that wedged their way into the Christmas card highlight for the many years we didn’t do portraits.
Snapshots in time…18 years of family life flipped through in a few quick minutes.
None of our own Christmas cards have been addressed yet this year, but we’re enjoying the trickle of cards arriving from family and friends. As we read each one, we hole-punch it and add it to our Holiday Blessing Ring.
Several years ago I stumbled upon a trick to manage the influx of holiday cards, and it’s become a tradition of sorts. We keep a small collection of cards from previous years in a cheery red box. As the current year’s batch of cards goes in, a previous year goes out. (I think we’re saying farewell to our 2011 bunch this year.) It’s an intentional way to honor the sentiment yet manage the clutter.
Simple activities strung together year after year build some family cohesiveness during the busy season.
Our advent countdown certainly has varied throughout the years as the boys have gotten older. We keep using the same scraps of folded paper that we did a decade ago, notes scrawled quickly then yet holding treasured memories now.
The unique clanky notes of a musical snow globe call us together…another “tradition” that just sort of happened, but has become a sweet way to remember the grandmother who gave it to us years ago. This year another grandma is living with us and is part of our cobbled-together advent time.
The other night’s advent box prompt was “find Christmas bingo and play it.” We joked about the age of the macaroni we continue to use as bingo markers, a throwback to elementary art projects.
Some evenings we double up for previous nights we’ve missed. We share memories of past Christmas shenanigans: the Christmas Eve when our oven shorted out and shot sparks across the kitchen, torching our special dinner inside as it went out in a blaze of glory ...last year’s Christmas tree falling over and crushing ornaments in its wake …the year 9 out of 10 family members got the stomach flu. Each memory is strengthened as it’s shared again with a slightly enhanced perspective.
Simply reading a childhood Christmas book together slows us down and lures us into family snuggle time.
Occasionally we’ll find a sweet surprise tucked into one of the books.
Recently we discovered our son’s 2007 letter to Santa. This simple wide-lined page of his careful 1st-grade handwriting sparked a host of memories and launched a discussion about other wish-filled magical letters.
As Decembers pile up on one another, we’re often left with a beautifully compressed memory of home and family. When the hustle feels like it’s too much, I turn to these small reminders of treasured ordinary moments that are Simple and Sweet.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1:17
P.S. Our last Bible Quilt session of the year is tonight. Come join us!