The kids had been waiting for days for Tree Cutting Day. Going out to get the tree on the farm is so rich with memories for all of us. This year, I couldn’t go, so our daughter Carrie took photographs for me to treasure.
I waited at home for them to come back. When I saw the sheep skitter across the knoll, I knew they were on the way. First, I saw Caroline come around the bend, pulling the sled with Georgie on it. Not far behind were the rest of the children, talking, laughing, skipping. Last, came an enormous tree with two pair of legs, boughs jauntily bouncing to the rhythm of their steps. I couldn’t believe what a gift I have been given in these people, in this place.
“I could leave the world with today in my eyes.” – Truman Capote (from A Christmas Memory)
A couple of weeks ago, Brian had his monthly weekend off from serving Mass – and we didn’t have Religious Education classes, so we went home to church. This is more than the parish for the town we grew up in, it is also my spiritual home, and the place where my conversion happened at age 10.
It felt warm and welcoming, familiar, and comfortable. Everything was just as it was when we were last there except that the choir was in the transept rather than the loft. And this time around, my beautiful family filled a pew to brimming. It did my heart good. So, so much good.
The altar where Brian and I exchanged vows 25 years ago, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, 133 years to the day after Ss. Louis and Zélie Martin.
The side altar dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. I was baptized at this font, and nearly a decade later, so was our oldest daughter.
For the first time in many years, I’m rushing Christmas. I feel like we all need a hit of that sweetness to lift our spirits. Last Friday, our date night consisted of a trip to Michael’s to buy Christmas decorations on sale. Yesterday, I did all of our Christmas shopping. All of it. I’m done. That never happens. We are always running around on Christmas Eve before the midnight Mass. Not this year.
I am working on a new Advent tradition here, too. I’m still going to use my matchbox calendar, but this year I think I’m going to print little messages to put into the boxes. The messages will herald what activity we will do for that day: a special meal, a service project, a handcraft.
If you’re feeling like you need a little Christmas, too, and you plan on heading over to do some shopping for Christmas gifts this weekend, you can click on the link below before going to Amazon and we will earn a commission! It only takes a moment to click through. We are so grateful to all of the people who clicked through the last couple of years.
“Kind words are a creative force, a power that concurs in the building up of all that is good, an energy that showers blessings on the world” – Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, SVD
God sends us the grace that we need in all situations. We have had a tough year here, and it just keeps getting tougher. We had an episode with Olivia during Mass and I was utterly wrung out by it. Wondering if I can ever be the mother she needs, if she will ever stop traumatizing the rest of the family… all while attempting to keep up a happy expression so that we continue to be a blessing rather than a burden to our parish and community.
Our daughter Cat texted on Sunday afternoon to catch up about her weekend. She had a table of guests on Saturday who somehow got around to talking with her about big families. She mentioned that she was the oldest of eleven. To her surprise and delight, they proposed a toast.
“To Cat’s Mom”.
I stood in the kitchen and sobbed for joy and gratitude, reading that perfect strangers had thought of me enough to wish me well. Those kind words changed my entire day. I felt uplifted and was able to cast off the sadness that was preventing me from giving my best to my family. They blessed me, and I was able to bless them. God sent exactly the nourishment I needed to get me – and everyone – through a day that might otherwise have broken me.
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. – Thomas Merton
A maple wood bowl filled with sweet fern and acorns.
I used to believe that happiness was a matter of intensity. I craved stimulation of all the senses, all the time. I needed to feel life in order to be sure I was alive.
Over the last year, I’ve had more stimulation of the senses than I could ever have dreamed. We all have. That constant onslaught makes you tender and sore. It makes you crave quietude. And it often makes happiness feel elusive. We forgot how to be happy in the storm that is trauma. Trauma is evil. Trauma steals all good things. It is hell.
And then Brian and I had a talk at a restaurant dinner table recently…
We were working through strategies for bringing back an abundance of peace and joy, hope and love into our home. I think we both started out thinking that we had to plan an elaborate distraction – a weekend away in a totally new environment with new adventures. But in the end, it was the small things that we decided would make the most difference – order and rhythm would restore balance and harmony.
The gentle, orderly rhythm that is provided by our prayer life and homeschool studies, the flow of the liturgical seasons, the joy of marking holidays and holy days with simple, joyful celebrations. That is what heals the soul, what brings happiness back to the hearth, what dispels darkness.