On the 7th Day of Christmas, New Years Eve, just over half way through the Christmas season.
I have a moment now to sit down and breathe and reflect. A brief moment, before it all starts again with potty training and school and music lessons and the 101 things to get done for just surviving the daily routine of caring for everybody. But it's a timely moment - a pause between the main celebrations of Christmas and the start of the New Year.
The Advent and Christmas season gets hectic. The older the kids get the more there is to do - more last minute homework assignments to finish up, more musical concerts and recitals, more crafts that everyone wants to work on, more "helpers" in the kitchen to make sure there is an even distribution of flour coating all surfaces. A merry whirl of chaos.
Now it feels good to breathe. To get a slow start in the morning and sit in bed with coffee and pouring over seed catalogs with the husband. We only have a few precious days left of Christmas break, so I'm soaking it up.
And in my reflections I'm giving thanks for so many moments of beauty in our Advent season and on Christmas morning.
* For frosty winter mornings that make it feel so perfect and cozy to build up the fire before breakfast. And for a heap of pajama-ed children piled in front of the fire with tousled bed heads.
* For the invigoration of morning chores, complete with rosy cheeks and stinging cold hands from chopping ice. For warm horse breath and ice covered manes.
(And, in Missouri, for the balmy warm days in between to thaw all the watering troughs and roads and make you appreciate the unpredictability of winter in the midwest.)
* For familiar strains of Christmas carols being sight read on a variety of instruments.
* For an eldest daughter who can whip up some scrumptious, warm cinnamon buns from scratch.
To be enjoyed by the fire after completing morning chores.
* For learning how to fit in some of our favorite advent activities even with a new baby and a busy home schooling schedule. We still managed to hit all the highlights, and have fun doing it!
* For the beauty of candles lighting the dark morning hours, children singing and lussekatter crumbs in bed.
* For the reminders of the Jesse Tree readings, a solid grounding for all the other advent festivities. The expectations and preparations, the long awaited fulfillment of the prophecies. The coming of a Savior, a light in the darkness.
* For the smell of spiced gingerbread cookies baking and the lavish distribution of sprinkles all over the table and floor (and cookies).
(Favorite recipe here.)
* For two year old daughters who make a solid, if brief, attempt to spread frosting before succumbing to the urge to gobble up their entire allotment of cookie toppings.
* For the many hours of preparation preceding the church music program and the built up excitement and anticipation of the children. For loud and exuberant voices and shy smiles.
* For ice skating with family. And then curling up under a blanket fort with hot chocolate and Charlie Brown's Christmas.
* For the joy and sense of community that comes in hand delivering cookies to neighbors on Christmas eve morning.
* For a table full of happy children and a delicious feast. For tin can lanterns, with lights twinkling, swinging across the farm fields, despite the gusts of wind on Christmas eve night. Children's voices lifted up in song - silly singing, then soft and beautiful, then boisterous and laughing. The clasp of a toddler's hand as she bravely navigates the thick tufts of pasture grass, full of the wonder of being out at night.
* For Christmas stories around the fireplace and glasses of creamy egg nog.
And then.... at long last .....
For the joy and excitement of Christmas morning!
* For the peaceful stillness of a house still wrapped in darkness and sleep, lit only by the tree, candles and crackling fire.
* For sharing coffee with a loved one in front of the fire with a baby snuggled close and dog at our feet.
* For full stockings, waiting, and the quiet anticipation of the children waking.
* For sleepy - eyed children impatient to discover their gifts.
* For lovely worship and fellowship with a wonderful church body on Christmas morning.
* For an evening spent opening gifts.
* For a smorgasbord of crackers, salami, cheese, green olives and pepper jelly.
* For staying up late with older children (and the youngest) and introducing them to the joys of Trivial Pursuit. And seeing them dominate the kid-friendly trivia cards.
* For celebrating this guy's first Christmas:
* For family hikes on beautiful balmy December days.
But most of all, for this -- this beautiful, loving family God has given us:
Merry Christmas to you all and many blessings on the New Year!