Words for Wednesday: pause and reflect

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©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Jesus won’t stay in the corner

blogIMG_6521On one of our travels this past year, we ventured into some Christmas stores. You know, those shops with nothing but Christmas décor for sale year round.

I love Christmas, I truly do. And I do enjoy decorating the Christmas pine in a festive way with special ornaments, many from places we’ve lived or traveled to and collected over our 40+ years of marriage. 

In addition, every year since our first child’s birth, I’ve purchased some kind of special Christmas ornament for each of our children. When they were small, my intention was to accumulate these ornaments, adding to them each year, so that when they grew up and left this nest called home, they would have a box of ornaments to put on their very own Christmas trees.

As they got old enough, I would let them choose their own ornament. So each of our three left home for adulthood with a box of Christmas memories.

And even though it’s been many years now that the last fledgling flew out of our nest, I still look far and wide for a special ornament to gift them and have added our two granddaughters to the Christmas ornament search list as well.

So, if there’s a Christmas shop handy, I’m in it, gleaning over the shelves, searching for just the right bauble.

One shop we visited on a trip this past summer looked promising. Entering the store, Christmas music was playing and the place was loaded with joyous Noel items everywhere.

Honestly, there seemed to be every kind of ornament imaginable – any theme, you name it, they had it. Some of the ornaments I felt were questionable to pass as Christmas tree decorations, but you know, to each his own.

Papa and I would just shake our heads at many of them and move on to the next shelf. We looked high, we looked low. And we finally did find a couple of ornaments to purchase – one for our oldest daughter and her hubby and one for a friend of mine.

But in all of our searching and perusing of the items in this Christmas shop, something was noticeably missing.

Where was Jesus – you know, the reason for the season? The Christ. The Savior of the world that Christmas is named for.

In the very back room of this store with many rooms, in the very far left corner of that room on a shelf down low below your eye level, a couple of small nativity sets occupied a tiny space.

That was all.  I had to bend over and practically touch my shoulder to my ear to even see them sitting here in that forlorn little corner.

No other decorations proclaiming the meaning of Christmas could be found in that shop. None. Nothing about Jesus other than that tiny little baby in the two or three crèches. Just that and absolutely nothing more.

So what did Jesus do to deserve being put in the corner, out of the way, where no one would see Him?

He had the audacity to fulfill ancient prophecy as the Messiah – the long-awaited Savior.   He exhibited absolute obedience to His Father by allowing himself to be taken to slaughter – this Lamb of God – hung on the cross in place of every sinner, dying for the love of His life – us.

He had the purest, unadulterated form of love for mankind than anyone else who has ever walked on this place called earth has ever possessed. Because He surrendered Himself for me. For you. For every single soul who chooses to believe in Him and accept His free and unconditional gift of grace – salvation.

Some day He won’t be put in the corner – forgotten and dusty. Because someday He’s coming back. And all of those Christmas ornaments that seem to gleam and glitter and catch our attention will be worthless.

They will not matter.

Because every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And He is the reason for the season.

“The great challenge left to us is to cut through all the glitz and glam of the season that has grown increasingly secular and commercial, and be reminded of the beauty of the One who is Christmas.” -Bill Crowder

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

My wish every year

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Christmas 1957 – the doll Santa brought me

The Christmas Season Present

Every year at this time, this season of merriment, these days leading up to Christmas, my thoughts return to days of yore. Back to my childhood, to those simple celebrations with my family.

A simple Christmas. An old-fashioned one compared to the glitz and overabundance the holiday is now. And that’s what my heart longs for.

Every year at this time. 

So that’s why I’m reposting some thoughts below from what I wrote back in 2013. 

The Christmas Season Past

Maybe it’s just my middle age.  Maybe it’s the empty nest thing.  Or maybe it’s just that I have more time on my hands to spend reflecting on the past.  Whatever it is, I find myself singing the words to an old Frank Sinatra Christmas song.

“Give me an old fashioned Christmas, an old fashioned Christmas,

 Family faces, wide open spaces, covered with snow.”

In my heart,  I’m longing for an old fashioned Christmas – one with less hurry and scurry.  One with deeper meaning.  One with a simpler celebration.  And I’m determined to accomplish it.  Oh, my Christmas to-do list bounces around my brain but I’m simplifying it.  

I’m sticking to the basics but even abbreviating those.  

Why? Because I long for the Christmas I recall as a child.   Do I remember anything fancy?    Do exquisitely wrapped packages with expensive gifts inside come to my mind?  Fine cuisine?  A beautiful and elaborately decorated home?  Do I recollect an over the top celebration?

What I remember from childhood Christmases are simple aspects.  My father would usually bring the Christmas tree home with him one day after work.  Sometimes that wouldn’t be until shortly before Christmas and one year I remember actually decorating the tree on Christmas Eve.

After my older sisters married, they spent Christmas Eve with their in-law families so that meant my parents and I usually attended candle-light service at church to welcome the Christ child.  Before the service, my father would drive us around our area to see neighbors’ homes Christmas light displays and we would ooh and aah over those that glowed the brightest.

No fireplace existed at my childhood home, but I still hung up my stocking over the knob of the front door.  I would be so excited for Christmas morning that I could barely sleep.  When Christmas Day arrived, my stocking bulged full of goodies although not with toys, gadgets, and gizmos.  

Dumping it out, I would discover a huge juicy orange, a shiny red apple, mixed nuts in their shells, candy canes, and other Christmas candy.  And I would be delighted with the yummy treats even though they were practically the same every year.  Nestled beneath the Christmas tree, I’d find one or two specially requested simple toys – a doll, a game, or one exciting year, a beautiful blue bicycle –  just for me. 

That afternoon brought our entire family gathered together and crowded into the living room around a simple Scotch pine real tree covered in old-fashioned strings of lights with colored bulbs, metallic icicles, and the same ornaments year after year.  It wasn’t a fancy themed tree; instead a hodge-podge collection adorned that prickly-needled fir which filled the air with the pungent scent of pine.

We exchanged a few gifts – real honest to goodness gifts that were purchased with thoughtfulness and consideration instead of gift cards or envelopes of money.  And we laughed, and we exclaimed over our wonderful presents, and we thanked one another with smiles and hearty hugs.

My mother prepared a simple but abundant and appetizing meal displayed on the dining room table – no fancy recipes, no exquisite table centerpieces/decorations to make it look like a photo spread from a magazine.  And we bowed our heads thanking God for the most precious gift of all – His Son Jesus Christ – and for our provision of food and family.

After dinner, one of us occupied the bench at our upright piano to plunk out Christmas carols while the rest of us sang the well-known tunes over and over again.  We’d eat dessert and commence a few rousing rounds of cards or games or sometimes just putting a new jigsaw puzzle together.

A simple Christmas.  Not photo worthy because of the food, the glitz, the gifts, or the amount of money spent.   A Christmas worth remembering because of love, gratitude, and joy felt and appreciated when a family assembles to celebrate.

That’s my idea of an old-fashioned Christmas and that’s what I wish for every Christmas. Every year. 

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.”  ~ Bob Hope

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Words for Wednesday: Approaching Christmas

FBIMG_0313I. Just. Can’t.

Somewhere between writing 30 thankful posts in November, hosting  Thanksgiving dinner for 15 members of my family, and falling captive to a nasty cold afterwards, I’ve just lost all motivation for not only writing posts for this blog but for preparing for Christmas as well.

Thank goodness for Papa. The other day when we had a warmish day of temperatures, he hauled out the twinkly lights and bedecked our home on the outside. It looks great as he always does a wonderful job of hanging the lights.  But this year, not once did I step outside to give him a helping hand as I was socked in on the couch blowing my nose endlessly.

Middle daughter rummaged through her belongings stashed in our basement and located her Christmas décor and she and Little One decorated the inside of the house. Last night, Papa set up our artificial Christmas evergreen and Daughter and Little One hung their own ornaments on it as I watched.

So most of my Christmas decorations are lying dormant in their plastic storage crates. Christmas cards, which are usually sent their merry way by now,  sit on the dining room table still unaddressed and I haven’t even begun to think about our annual holiday letter I tuck into the cards.

I’m just not feeling it.

My Christmas spirit is waning…no, let’s be honest, it’s non-existent. I can blame it on feeling under the weather. I can blame it on being worn out from helping daughter do some renovating to her new home she hopes to move into soon (we’re talking massive wallpaper stripping, repairing walls, sanding, washing down the walls, and finally painting).

Or I could blame my lack of Christmas spirit on the fact that most of my family will not be here for the holiday this year, so we had a bit of Christmas gift exchanges at Thanksgiving time.  So it almost feels like Christmas is over for me.

Whatever the cause, I feel a bit like I’m possibly turning green, Grinch-like. Or maybe I’m feeling prone to saying bah-humbug to the holidays like old man Scrooge.

But truly, that’s not what’s in my heart. I love Christmas. I love the sights, the smells, the lights, the tree, the special ornaments, the greetings that come in the mail. But most of all, I love that we celebrate the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Maybe I just need to slow down. Take some time to reflect on that. To read the first few chapters of Luke in my guidebook for life, my Bible, and remind myself of that very first Christmas so long ago.

Maybe this year, Christmas just needs to be simple. Simply rejoicing in the gift God gave the world. And filling my heart with that joy.

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” ~ Roy L. Smith

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Once a year

blogIMG_0131(Note from Mama’s Empty Nest: During this busy Christmas season, I’m reposting blogs from several years ago. If you missed why, please click on this link for my reasons. The following post is from December 2012.) 

It’s so easy, isn’t it?  That’s what you’ve been asking yourself this past Christmas season.

Pull into a crowded parking lot at the nearest mall, cruise the lot for an empty spot, jump out of the car with your long list of must-haves to join the throng of Christmas shoppers.

On the way inside the store, you hear the familiar ringing of a bell and you spy the volunteer bell-ringer with the Salvation Army kettle.  You’re in a hurry, but you reach in your pocket or wallet or purse and dig out whatever you can find – some change or a couple of bucks. Throw it in the kettle, accept the “thank you, Merry Christmas” and scurry on your way.

You walk inside your house of worship. There’s an “angel tree” in the foyer. Gift tags with the only identifying items such as “3-yr-old girl wants a baby doll, wears size 4T clothing.” You choose a tag, purchase a few items, and send those off to be distributed to the child in need.

Your civic group participates in Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse. You dutifully find shoe boxes, shop for small toys and school supplies, soap and toothpaste, cram the boxes full, and write a check so the boxes might be shipped to the other side of the world into a child’s eager hands in time for Christmas.

Your favorite hair salon/doctor/grocery store sponsors a food drive to replenish a  food pantry and another local business holds a winter coat drive. You pack up some canned goods, drop them off. You rummage in the front hall closet and dig out those still good but unwanted winter coats and donate them.

You might even take your kids for the day to volunteer distributing bags of groceries with Christmas dinner items packed inside to families in need of food.

And you call this charity. You call this good will. You call this helping those in need. You call it whatever you want to call it because it makes you feel like you’ve done something to help. Something to serve. Something.

And this something proves easy when you do this once a year.

It’s Christmas. We think about those who go without during this holiday season and it’s easy to open our hearts and our wallets or check books.  Because isn’t that what we should do? Isn’t that what makes us feel like we’re spreading Christmas cheer? Or isn’t that what makes us feel good?

Yes. Yes. And yes. But…..you ask yourself…why do you only perform these good deeds at Christmas time? Where is your generosity the rest of the year?

And what would happen if you actually gave all through the year? In March. Or August.  Or every month of the year.

What if you provided a summer picnic to a needy family? What if you purchased a fan to cool off a summer’s day for someone who can’t  afford one?

What if you donated food staples to the food pantry all year long because really, are people only going hungry at Christmas time?

What if you helped a child, one who needs food, clothing, school supplies, and a little toy to bring a smile to his or her face, for 12 months or 12 years?

What if you gave your time to spend it with someone who is lonely?  Someone who is hurting, someone who is grieving?

What if you prayed every day for God to help those who desperately need Him in their lives and to use you in any way He sees fit to teach them about His saving grace?

What if you focused on the feelings of those in need instead of focusing on your own good feeling when you give?

What if you opened your heart every day of the year and not just once a year in December?

Wouldn’t that be something?

Once a Year by Josh Wilson

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Memory snow banks

blogIMG_0225(Note from Mama’s Empty Nest: During this busy Christmas season, I’m reposting blogs from several years ago. If you missed why, please click on this link for my reasons. The following post is from December 2013.) 

I’ve been under the weather in more ways than one.  Relegated to our family room’s comfy couch, I’ve been down with a nasty cold/flu bug for several days now. 

Just lying around and vegetating (usually with the cat sleeping on top of my stomach or curled at my side), my brain’s been saturated with fog preventing me from taking advantage of the down time to write some new blog posts.

Nope, no creative juices to be found.  All I could manage was listening to my Pandora Christmas music station or the one on cable TV,  watching a plethora of holiday movies, and thinking about all the things I should be trying to accomplish for Christmas like gift shopping, wrapping presents,  and making a grocery shopping list. 

As I muddled through the fog that enveloped my brain, I peered out the window to  watch snowflakes flutter and fly through the air. 

Snow moved into my neck of the woods and it set up housekeeping.  Often I left my perch, flung open the door, and just stood there wrapped up in my warm, tattered robe taking in the magnificent show nature performed for me.

Sometimes tiny specks of icy snow that are almost not perceivable dropped from the overcast sky.  Other times sizable cottony fluffs floated and danced through the air on their spiral downward. 

Sometimes snow fell in an almost lazy we’ve-got-all-the-time-in-the-world way.  Other times it sped up and descended so fast and furiously it produced a white-out effect.

Snow frosts our shrubs like icing drizzled over a cake.  It buries our driveway until the only way I can ascertain where it’s located is by the reflector poles hubby placed at one edge of the drive for that purpose.  At night, our outside Christmas lights reflect through their blanket of snow and it truly does look like a winter wonderland. 

Lots of folks here complain about the snow, they complain about the cold, they complain about the messy roads. I don’t. I like snow. I like the cold temperatures. And as far as the roads go, hey, it’s winter in western Pennsylvania, what do you expect?

Of course, like the old song says, I’ve got no place to go so why not let it snow. And it does. It snows and it snows and it snows and I wonder will it last until Christmas? And as it does so often, my mind reverts back to the past just as quickly as if the Ghost of Christmas Past was whisking me there. 

After all, with my achy body and profound lack of energy induced by illness, I have time on my hands to take a few mental excursions since those are the only trips I can muster. 

I remember so many of those magical white Christmases of yore. But I also remember those out of the norm times when temperatures were spring-like and December 25 proved to be a green holiday. But mostly, I remember snow decorating the landscape at Christmas time.

Back when our three were little tykes, I vividly remember one Christmas when we lived in the Midwest. That year, we were not able to travel back to our home state to visit our families for the holidays. 

Instead, we would celebrate our Savior’s birth alone with just our family of five. On Christmas Eve, the kids were so wound up with excitement they could hardly contain themselves. And that excitement turned into sheer joy when we looked outside and noticed it was snowing!

We woke up Christmas morning to a world filled with white – just like a snow globe. Since we had no extended family coming nor were we going anywhere, we spent a leisurely, relaxing Christmas Day in our pajamas opening gifts, exclaiming over the joy of both giving and receiving special things, and playing with our children and their new toys. 

Then we all bundled up in our winter wear, piling on hats and scarves and mittens and boots and all five of us ventured outside into our winter playground to frolic in the snow. It proved to be a special Christmas that will always remain etched in my snowy memory bank.

Snow and Christmas. Christmas and snow. They seem to go hand in hand in my mind.  Maybe that’s why I love snow so much. It always reminds me of Christmas – a season of love and joy and giving…and light.

The Light of the world given to us on that special night. What reflects light better than a covering of snow? Last night when sleep eluded me, I noticed how bright it looked outside with the moon reflecting off the glistening snow.

And this all comes to my mind as I wander into the living room, sit quietly in the chair by the window, watching the snow swirl and twirl.  Glancing at our glittering Christmas tree,  I catch sight of an old treasured ornament hanging there.  

A smiling snow man face with a black top hat that adorned my parents’ Christmas tree when I was a kid grins at me. Dating back to the late 50’s or early 60’s, somehow it managed to survive all of these years unbroken even though it’s made many moves from house to house, state to state, since I acquired it.

Mr. Snow Man looks a little worn from his many years but from his spot on our tree, he faces the window where he can see the wintry landscape outside and he smiles. It’s as if he says, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

And with that, let the heart-warming memories of happy Christmas times descend right along with the snow.  Let it snow memory after memory.  Suddenly, I don’t feel so under the weather after all.

“Oh the weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful and since we’ve no place to go…let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” ~ Sammy Cahn

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Broken

blogIMG_4790(Note from Mama’s Empty Nest: During this busy Christmas season, I’m reposting blogs from several years ago. If you missed why, please click on this link for my reasons. The following post is from December 2014.) 

It happened while I was trimming the tree.

I hauled the over-sized plastic tote full of ornaments up from the basement, opened it, and started to carefully unwrap all the baubles, balls, and special decorations packed in it. 

Each one brings back memories.  The ones we purchased at various locations where we’ve vacationed over the years.  The ones commemorating special times in our lives like family occasions or anniversaries or new homes.  The antique ones which used to hang on my childhood Christmas tree at my parents’ home.  And the ones made and/or given by special friends which always bring them to mind.

I arranged the ornaments and since I was adorning the tree alone, I needed to use the step stool to reach the top third of the tree because, yes, I am too short and Papa usually is assigned that task. 

The tree was almost completely embellished with all of its garnishes when, while standing on the top step of the stool, I leaned into the tree a bit to hang a wee star ornament that I remember buying in a specialty shop in Seattle. 

And that’s when I heard it, that familiar jingle jangling sound of something falling off the tree followed by the sound of splintering glass. I suspected it was one of the ordinary department store variety glass balls which I have plenty of and wouldn’t miss. 

I glanced down to the side of my stool and there a glass ball lay, perfectly intact on the living room carpeted floor.  Okay, no problem.  But then as I stepped back down off the stool, I saw something else and immediately, I cried, “Oh, no!”

Lying at the base of the stool was a broken glass ornament which apparently had hit the metal step stool on its way to the floor.  Oh, not this one!  This one was irreplaceable. 

It was a clear glass ball with a likeness of the face of Jesus inside.  This one was special and always hangs front and center on our evergreen tree.  This one was crafted and given to me by a church friend when we lived all the way across the country in the Pacific Northwest those many years ago.

Shards of glass sprinkled my living room carpet and I gingerly picked up the largest pieces left and placed them on the top step of the stool as I vacuumed up the rest of the mess. Why did it have to be that one, I thought.  Why not one of those that had no special memories attached to it?

But then I looked – really looked – at the broken ornament. 

Broken.  Jesus.  He was broken.   

And it occurred to me that is exactly what He did for us.  He allowed himself to be broken. Broken for you.  Broken for me.  Broken on an old rugged cross to save us from eternal death because no matter how hard we try, we just can’t be good enough to save ourselves.

Immediately the words from the King James Version of the Bible came to mind.  That passage in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 where the Apostle Paul tells us that on the very night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and told us to eat the bread, which symbolized His soon to be broken body.  And to do that to remember Him.

“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:24 KJV  

Just last week, I read a quote by Pete Wilson, pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN.  Wilson said, “Jesus didn’t come into a perfect world full of perfect people, He came into a broken world full of broken people so that He could redeem us.”  

Yes!  That was exactly what that broken ornament at the beginning of December reminded me.

So as Christmas Day approaches, I will celebrate the birth of my Savior.  I will sing of that tiny babe born in a manger, the One who came to save us all, the most amazing gift God has ever given us. 

But I will also remember the grown up Jesus. The One who was born in Bethlehem, lived a human life yet became the Savior who entered this broken world to save broken people like me and you by allowing His own body to be broken. 

I will sing Joy to the World, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King and I will rejoice not just for the babe in a manger but for the Son of God on the cross and the empty tomb of Resurrection Sunday.  

And I will give thanks for a broken Christmas ornament that reminds me.

Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing.

God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.”  ~ Vance Havner

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Craft yourself a Merry Christmas

blogIMG_4543(Note from Mama’s Empty Nest: During this busy Christmas season, I’m reposting blogs from several years ago. If you missed why, please click on this link for my reasons. The following post is from December 2010.) 

It’s hard not to be crafty at Christmas. 

Oh, I don’t mean being crafty in the sense of the definition of the word: sly, shrewd, cunning or deceptive, although I suppose you could call many people crafty at Christmas time.

There’s the shrewd way some people act at the mall when they slide into a parking spot first while you were patiently waiting for the previous car to vacate the space. 

Some people are downright cunning as they push and shove their way through crowds to get the very last [insert newest, hottest selling toy here]. 

And often times, we are very deceptive as we hide the Christmas presents or even the Christmas cookies so they won’t all be eaten before Christmas arrives!

No, I don’t mean that kind of crafty.  I’m thinking more about those who are like Martha Stewart. Wait a minute, she did go to jail once….perhaps she was cunning or deceptive, huh? 

Well, let’s concentrate on her ability to take an ordinary branch off her juniper tree and turn it into the most amazing shimmery addition to a boring centerpiece that you ever have seen. That’s what I mean by crafty.

Some people can just take scraps of this, leftovers of that, add some ribbon and glitzy stuff and voila! A lovely Christmas ornament for your pine tree.

Or there are those people who actually make Christmas gifts for family and friends. I admire their creativity and tenacity!

And then there are the items that were lovingly handmade at school or in Sunday School class by your children when they were little. Crafts and Christmas just seem to go together.

I was thinking about that the other day when I finally finished decorating our Christmas tree. (Yep, I succumbed.  I just couldn’t leave a bare-naked tree in my living room!) There are a lot of crafty ornaments residing in my Christmas décor boxes. 

Here’s the round painted one oldest daughter made in second grade, if I remember correctly. It hung on the mayor’s Christmas tree at City Hall in the town we lived in then. 

Middle daughter made candy canes out of red and white pony beads and pipe cleaners one year with her fellow Girl Scouts. Son constructed a baby Jesus in half a walnut shell in Sunday School way back when.

Several handmade ornaments that I purchased at craft shows or holiday bazaars also congregate in my boxes, some of those I even managed to make myself. 

Others were gifts bestowed upon me like the clear glass ball with a sketch of Jesus inside from a friend or the half egg shell with a Christmas scene displayed inside of it, a gift from my mother many years ago.

Over the years, I’ve tried my hand at crafting other decorations as well, including a nutcracker wreath, a garland of felt stars with homemade buttons fashioned out of clay and baked in the oven, and who knows what else lurking in those boxes. 

When I unpack these items, it brings back a lot of delightful memories – some of my mother, some of my children as they were growing up, and some of friends, now far away.

When I was a little girl, my mother belonged to a “Home Extension Group,”  ladies who met monthly at each other’s homes for a demonstration of home arts and a lovely lunch. 

Most of these women were my mom’s age or older and I vividly remember being the only youngster at those meetings until I got older and trotted off to school. Even then, I would be excited to jump off the school bus and enter my home to see the ladies from home extension there and taste the yummy leftover dessert.

These women gathered to craft or learn something new in the fine art of homemaking.  Sometimes a representative from the state home extension office would visit and give a demonstration, perhaps on home canning or sewing.

I still remember the year they made large white candles shaped like snowballs for Christmas. Whatever they were making or eating, this group of friends always seemed to enjoy their time together.

Several years ago when my family lived in the Pacific Northwest, I told this story of Mom’s home extension group to some of my friends and we decided to resurrect the concept. A few weeks before Christmas, we met at a friend’s home, spent the morning crafting together and sipping hot coffee or tea, then shared a tasty and delicious lunch.

Once we designed nutcracker wreaths. We all convened at the craft store to choose scads of items to hot glue onto our wreaths of artificial greenery. Festive ribbons, little nutcrackers, Christmas birds, glittering balls, shiny strings of beads, twigs of fake holly…it looked like the Ghost of Christmas Present had thrown up all over the table!

But oh, the fun we had! We chatted and laughed as we crafted, enjoying each other’s company so much, giving advice about the placement of tinsel tidbits, which was beneficial because the more savvy decorators among us could give direction to those of us who were craft-deficient.  

Having relished our day together, we decided to continue the idea each week as we launched another Christmas craft. For the first time, I truly understood why my mother belonged to her “home extension group” for all those many years.

It wasn’t about the finished product, although that was nice. The real joy came from time well-spent with dear friends, savoring one another’s company with laughter and merriment yet sharing burdens and sorrows as well. It was about gathering for a lovingly home-cooked lunch together as neighbors who had more in common than just the neighborhood where they lived.

Yes, it was a simpler time when my mother and those sweet ladies, whose faces I can still recall even though every one of them has left this world, convened every month for camaraderie and cake. 

But those simple times can be recaptured – my friends and I did it that one special time at Christmas. We just have to want to live a simpler life, to take time to visit those we treasure, and make memorable moments happen.

It’s Christmas. It’s time to slow down. Spend time with your closest friends and family.

And while you’re at it, though you may not be “crafty,” make something special together – even if it’s just lovely memories.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com