We turned on the outside Christmas lights last night for a few hours. They looked nice and bright, although it’s a bit odd to have them sitting on the bare brown ground. Like I said before, I am not complaining in the least that we have absolutely no white stuff, and not predicted until almost December 20. Still, the lights helped bring a brightness to a day that has the daylight end at close to 5:15.
While having the first cup of morning coffee, Cheri and I walked around and pulled all the Thanksgiving stuff off the tables, cupboards and mantels. They are waiting patiently on the coffee table to be re-binned for another year. I’m always amazed at the feelings that come from looking at decorations for different seasons and holidays. Before Thanksgiving, for instance, when we look at the runners and cloths with images of fall leaves and pumpkins, or the glass blown pumpkins we display, that came from a local artist, or even the stuffed animal turkeys that hang with their feet off the edge of different trunks and furniture, there is a sense of anticipation – of things to come in the couple of weeks before the big Day. However, yesterday morning brought a whole different feeling. They looked – finished with their work – and no longer bright and glowing. Thanksgiving, for as nice as it was, is over, and it’s time to say goodbye for another year.
Of course, you know what that means – Christmas is coming! That “most wonderful time of the year” begins officially with Advent tomorrow morning. Even though it’s the season of anticipation, with Christmas itself only occupying the 12 days of Christmas Day to Epiphany on January 6, it is still the season on light and color and glowing, twinkling, joyful decorations. I love it. I always have, and would jump full feet first into the season. Christmas songs are going to play whenever I can turn the radio on. This is not a time for silence – it’s time for cheer and smiles and special secrets and holy anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child. What more could we want than that?
Yes, I know in some homes and some places, all there seems to be is excess – too much, and it’s gaudy and crass and overdone. We have already seem some homes that have lit their outside lights almost since Halloween, and I can tell you, there are some people who should give the task of decorating their outside homes to someone else. Even a group of wandering capuchin monkeys could do a better job – they are a mess! However, it’s their mess, and there is no national standard of how things should be decorated or stylishly adorned. It’s Christmas, so knock yourself out!
So, later this morning, after Thanksgiving is packed, we will begin… and only begin to “pull out” Christmas from its storage in the basement. We have tons of little figurines, and garland, and evergreen chains and candles, and little twinkling lights and bright blue and red and green cloths and runners and tablecloths. We have, as a nod to Cheri’s heritage, a set of six stuffed gnomes – medium to large size – who used to sit on the piano every year, but we donated the piano to a church this summer to give us more room in the living room, so that will be a good debate to determine where they should settle. We used to have only five gnomes, but two years ago, we gave a gnome to Mom to decorate her room, and now, after her death, he came to live with us.
We will slowly pull out Christmas from its hiding place. Since we have Adam’s birthday on the 12th and Cheri’s on the 13th, I have made the arbitrary decision that we won’t put up the tree until after birthdays. Two reasons for that – one is that December birthdays often and frequently end up second place to the Christmas jazz, and that’s not fair. They deserve their place without having to compete. Second, is that it also extends the excitement of anticipating Christmas by having yet another day of decorating. I’ll tell you about our tree in a couple of weeks.
I must say that this has been a dark year – 2020. It didn’t start that way. For the first couple of months, it seemed like most every other year, with high points and low ones, but it all changed after March, didn’t it? Everything turned tentative, and needed to be examined, and boundaries and zones extended, and hands washed way more than they needed to be. And the face masks. Those stinking necessary face masks. And schools disrupted, and people told to work from home, which is not where work should happen, so some boundaries were built higher, and others seemed to disappear out of necessity. “They” even said we shouldn’t gather our families around a table for Thanksgiving, since that very act of love was a dangerous spreader.
So – we need a little Christmas, right this very minute. We need it come earlier than other years, for the darkness to get pushed away by silly bright lights, and candy canes and goofy looking reindeer. We need the Christ Child, to remind us that God is still in charge, and this is only a season, and not a sentence.
We are going to “put up” Christmas today. I can hardly wait. This is the time of light and hope, of “good cheer” and blessings. I am so ready to anticipate heaven as God brings us the best Gift, and for us to know, once again, that we are loved and cherished – even when darkness wants to push in and choke out our hope. That’s not who we are, and each decoration proves that.
Enjoy your own Advent – your own “getting ready” time, and know that, up here in the northland, we are getting ready with you. Peace this day.
Word for the day: palpebration. Pronounced pal-peh-BRAY-shun, it’s not a word you would likely guess the meaning of. Its from Latin, and the latin word is palpebra, which means “eyelid.” When we break it down further, we find the word palpa which actually means to touch softly, or caress, or even flatter. The verb that we find is palpetare, which is simply “to flutter.” It’s an intransitive verb, so you can’t “flutter” someone else. It’s your work. So, palpebration is the action of … winking. Now, remember that winking is different from blinking. Blinking is a near automatic response to a dry eye, or something getting in the eye. Winking, however, is a totally voluntary action, and it means quite a bit. I wink, and I send you a message of “we both know, don’t we?” or “Hi there – I’ve noticed you,” or even quietly showing your playful side. Hopefully it’s never used as a nasty thing, or invasive, but it does connect two people with the silent sign it sends.
So, if you are up to it, and have a good reason, go ahead and palpebrate today… and realize that one eye is better at doing that than the other…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.