I have found a deliciously quiet moment – a moment without an activity or a preparation for an activity or the jammy-seeking tiredness that follows the close of an activity. You know of what I write: parties, teas, performances, crafts, table settings, dish washings . . . the list trails off in a delightful peppermint-stripe of fun and frolic as we gather together to celebrate the beauty of our happy walk toward Christmas.
Though I do nearly nothing in the way of shopping conventionally, I do go all out in flinging wide my door to gatherings big and small. A friend drops by to deliver goat’s milk because she was caught in a traffic jam when Gary came by to purchase and I put on the kettle. A delightful time strolling through the gardens (unseasonably warm and still in bloom here and there), followed by a fragrant gathering in the tree’s glow as we sipped strawberry-vanilla tea and nibbled at some dark chocolate became a gift. She pronounced it the nicest tea she had ever had – did I mention she’s a garden gal who loves the outdoors more than I? I’m sure her teatimes generally include a mug in hand taken to a bench under the fig tree. To simply sit and chat and sip proved a gift to all of us, as my girls gathered around eagerly. Girls-and-tea-and-such just happens spontaneously around here, while the boys snicker from another room or pass on through swiftly, pausing for a sweet and portable treat before vanishing.
Speaking of treats, tomorrow a dear friend-like-a-sister and her daughter-like-a-niece will be joining us for a Cookie Day. Gingerbread and Sugar cookies will spread out in all directions and the frosting-sprinkles-candy-sweets will rain down in happy abandon. By afternoon’s end we will have decorated, sampled, dressed up, and even dropped a few of the plethora baked in anticipation. Like Santa’s elves we will create magic and then we will send them out on plates for this neighbor or that, to friends here and there in our town, taking care to reserve sufficient supplies for our own holiday merrymaking. My sister arrives on Christmas Eve, thus missing this event, but we will surely duplicate it while she is here. You can never have too many cookie days, can you?
For those of you that know I tend to “healthy eating” and whole-food mania, you can rest assured that I have fortified our family body with ample broths and meals in prep for the sweet-treat onslaught. White sugar and flour will be welcomed for the season as I have yet to find a suitable “sugar” cookie made from coconut crystals and whole-wheat flour – but I haven’t stopped looking! I had thought of sharing from my treasure trove of sweet, simple, and healthy recipes for parties, but as time has slipped and I have sought serendipity over stress, that post will have to wait for another day.
As I gently roll my mind back over the past year I smile and celebrate the word “Serendipity” – my chosen word to guide 2011. At so many unknown turns in the road called 2011 I fell back on my special “word” and let the stress roll on by, murmuring gently to myself, “We’ll see . . . we’ll see what God has in store.” Though I could seldom find a rhyme or reason for some of the stuff, I did find comfort and pure joy in leaving off the stress of trying to control it all. I simply rode the waves and laughed (between screams) despite the raucous ride. I held tight to those I love and reminded myself to breathe as life’s coaster dipped and whirled and navigated the loop-de-loops set squarely in my path. Whew! It’s been quite a ride, and I’m ready to board 2012 with equal delight and anticipation. In fact, I tasted the sweetness of freedom with such relish this past year that I have already chosen Serendipity’s close friend as my word for 2012:
Not being one for surprises, I have decided to unwrap the gift of “Celebrate” early and put it to good use right alongside “Serendipity.” So, if you stop by this Christmastide don’t bother looking for me on the fringes with a bedraggled smile and a load to carry, I’ll be the one right by the tree with a cookie in hand and a teapot at the ready. Serendipity taught me that life doesn’t need my fears and worries in order to find the joy; in fact, they obscure the way and siphon the energy that is better used for broad merrymaking than for sweating small details. Opening up the heart and hands, throwing wide the doorway to possibility, and letting expectations blow away has blossomed into a truly wonderful year filled with simple moments of unexpected joy. Please join me in Celebrating all that will come to us and upon us this Holy Season of the gift of great joy for ALL people.
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Now, if I don’t manage to find my way back here before the special day arrives please accept this as my special gift:
The days flow rapidly one into another around here due to the many parties, performances, more parties, more performances, more . . . well, you get the idea.
A whirlwind day-trip to LA for a tree-trimming party provided loads of fun and pure exhaustion. I came home determined to R-E-S-T in the brief window until more birthdays and other holiday fun pop up on the calendar. The phrase Too Much Fun comes to mind but I quickly whisk it aside as I do the kermit-cupcake-crumbs and the popcorn kernels evidencing the steady merry-making around here.
Here in the quiet of the morning, a little thought keeps swirling around in my head as I plan, prepare, and promise more things for the holidays:
Be the gift
I sit back quietly with teacup in hand,
I close my eyes so as not to see
the overly-scribbled calendar notations,
"Be the gift," sighs the morning fire.
I sweetly think of the best gifts I've ever gotten for Christmas.
True to proverbial wisdom, the best gifts were not things at all.
"Be the gift," my still heart croons.
Hearkening back to last Sunday's evening cantata
wherein Lydia performed O Holy Night,
(Now THAT was a gift, indeed!)
I flashed a smile to the organist
as the lights flickered the audience to be seated.
Later, the organist asked my daughter to convey
thanks to me for the smile --
"Most people don't even notice me,
let alone smile at me," she offered.
"Be the gift," my journal notes.
The gift of :
a cheerful greeting
Be the Gift
Celebrate in a truly old-fashioned way,
Remembering why we say
Remembering why we gather together, gifts in hand.
For God so loved the world that he GAVE his only begotten son
The other day, whilst pruning back my garden, I dithered with myself in God's range as to whether I should return to the bloggy world. I missed that funny sort of virtual thingy that has brought so many new friends into my life. I questioned myself about time and presence and came to no solid conclusion save the one I always found at the end of this conversation; namely: "You'll know if and when the time is right."
So, I finished the pruning, went in for a cuppa tea, and stopped thinking about blogging. When next I checked my email I found a lone new comment left upon a distant post. It read:
I miss you Debbie..
I wish I could come visit,
we could chat over some hot tea and a cookie or two..
I hope you are well!
Dear sweet Elizabeth, busy mom of five from the other side of the US, had written to me . . . missing me. A tear sparkled in that knowing little way as my heart whispered, "It is time." Thank you, Elizabeth, for letting me know.
And so once again the kettle has begun to sing here at Wisteria Cottage amidst the familiar clatter of blue willow teacups placed onto a tray as I ready for the first of many chats together with my sweet friend(s).
But, Elizabeth, before the chatting can commence I simply must know . . .
After I finished tidying the cottage today, the BIG storm rolled in. It has proven less-than-BIG, thus far -- a few BOOMS now and again, but all in all it has been a pretty nice rainy day. The gardens love soaking up the moisture and we love the care-free watering method God designed.
Since this cool day landed smack in the middle of some pretty warm days, we all welcomed it.
As I put the vacuum away, I asked Elizabeth to set the teakettle to boiling. I fixed tea trays for the studious ones, Lydia and Rachel, with bread-butter-strawberry jam and a hot cuppa African Nectar tea for each. Elizabeth and I shared a pot of Honeybush tea while we settled in for some rainy day reading.