Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails.
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil, worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
I trust in Thee.
--Ann Kimmel

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Almost Christmas Eve

Illustration from Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

Somehow it's always a bit of a shock when December 24 rolls around and one realizes that, ready or not, Christmas is about to begin. It's the kind of event I look forward to for so long that when it arrives and the minutes start ticking down, I have trouble taking it in.

I think that's one reason I love having traditions to call on. There's a structure and a comfort to knowing what to expect. I read once that traditions are important because they help to define our identities.

Christmas Eve here generally starts with a flurry of last-minute housecleaning, checking menu lists and tending to those final steps in meal preparations, and then--weather permitting--a walk with the dogs in the brisk, cold air to settle my mounting excitement and focus my thoughts. (That's not likely to happen this year--the rain has been nonstop.) Then, after a sketchy lunch, with cups of coffee in hand, my husband and I typically relax in the living room and listen to the 1948 recording of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes episode, The Blue Carbuncle. 

For years we've relied on an ancient LP album (that's a "long playing" record for those of you Generation X-ers)--badly scratched and barely playable--so last year we were especially pleased to find this radio drama online. This is our favorite version, starring Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson. It's got a Christmas setting and always puts me in a festive mood. It's about 30 minutes long.

Here's the link if you'd like to give it a listen:

(click on "Free Sherlock Holmes Audio - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and you will come to a list where you can choose "The Blue Carbuncle" or one of several other Holmes radio episodes.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
I've been battling headache the past three days now, and this morning it was so nasty I decided to give church a miss, and allowed myself the luxury of just being and not doing. It was wonderful. I schlepped around in my pajamas and rested in bed most of the day, and when the headache began to abate, I spent an hour reading a book I found recently about real-life miracles. It did me so much good! 

It can be so hard (especially for women, who typically "orchestrate" most of the Christmas preparations for their families) to simply relax. One of my favorite carols is "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," especially the verse that goes:

And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the narrow way,
With painful steps and slow--
LOOK NOW! For glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O, rest beside the weary road 
And hear the angels sing.

This Christmas, try and take a little time for yourself to just be with the Lord. Step back from the activity. Breathe. Rest. It's okay. Give your family and Jesus what they really want this year--be more of a "Mary" and less of a "Martha". Give yourself and not your efforts.  

Oh, my goodness! My husband just looked out the window and announced that it's snowing! Could it be a white Christmas is in the offing???   


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