It occurs to me now, sitting here, that the lyrics “tidings of comfort and joy” – the very lyric I have honed in on like a heat seeking missile this season- tells me two things.
First it tells me that we need comfort, which must mean that something is wrong. Something is broken, hurt, wounded, sad. Otherwise, why would we need comfort?
And secondly, that after comfort is joy.
Which seems like a funny thing to offer to someone who is suffering and in need of comfort.
But there they are, together like peas in a pod:
Comfort and Joy.
And I cannot get away from them.
If you have ever visited this little online space of mine at Christmastime before, you may notice that few things are different around here this year. That there doesn’t seem to be the usual flocking of the blog and tinseling of the post.
And yes, you would be right.
There is a lot that is different this year.
I do believe that 2013 will go down in history as the Advent, the Christmas, of Making-Do.
Things have not gone as exactly as planned the past few weeks.
Starting with our wonderful – but long and tiring- vacation cutting into the first weekend of Advent, followed by a crazy work week, followed by a four day weekend being snowed/iced in, followed by an almost week long bed ridden Sweet Man do to an injury.
An injury that has prevented him from getting all of our Christmas down from the attic and putting all the non-Christmas back up.
Now usually under these circumstances I would have called in the troops – the brothers and brother-in-law- to come and help me make merry, hauling my dozen or so bins from the attic.
But here is the other side of the coin.
We are leaving for Louisiana – where my in-laws now live -in 8 days. Which is where we will stay until Christmas, which will be followed by the boys and I going on a visit to my parents for 5 days.
And the more I thought about it, the more it all started to seem like a lot of work for very little enjoyment.
It started to feel forced.
And it was then that I had to choose.
I had to choose crazy or I had to choose Christmas.
Friends, I am doing my very best to choose Christmas.
And this year that means that I am making-do.
I am making do with too little time, and not enough rest, and broken plans, and unmet expectations.
I am making do with an injured husband, and a tighter budget, and lots of questions.
I am making do with what I have, where I have, how I have it.
I am making do in a new world. One where my Grandaddy doesn’t live anymore. Where my grandparents home for 39 years -every year of my life – will be someone else’s soon.
Where the same traditions that have gone on in that home for those 39 years have suddenly ceased, without any care for what has always been.
This holiday season has been weird and different from the word go. Nothing is as it usually is or how I would choose for it to be, and yet Christmas is still coming, the same as always.
So I am choosing – daily, moment by moment, (because thinking of it as a whole would send me to bed for a month) to live out what I say I believe.
To open my hands to what is.
To go slower.
To make do with what I have.
This year, instead of hauling out the buckets of my beloved decorations, I decided to use what I had on hand. I have used items leftover from Advent Events for the book, the ornaments I rescued from my grandparents house before the estate sale, a few ornaments I had already purchased, a small fledgling cedar tree growing in our driveway, and anything red or plaid or gingham that I could scrounge up from my closets, the boys rooms, and the bottom of the china hutch. As The Nester would say, I “shopped my own house.”
I threw mini-pompom fringe on everything, broke out tons of candles, sprung for 3 new strands of twinkle lights (which immediately make it feel like Christmas) and a fresh wreath from the grocery store for the door, and called it good.
This year we have a chalkboard Christmas tree, a granny square mobile, and a chalkboard Advent Calendar where we are filling in the dates instead of marking them out. We have an Advent wreath made of votive candle holders on a cake pedestal, yarn pom-poms everywhere and our Nativity set, (which somehow never makes it to the attic thankfully) sitting and waiting. I keep a steady rotation of Christmas tunes and Christmas movies flowing, and we have had more than our fill of eggnog.
We are making do – and making lovely – right where we are.
But still, I cannot pretend that this has all been easy. While there has been some relief it taking this slower approach, while there has been excitement in stretching my creative muscle in taking what we have and turning it into Christmas, and while I have found unexpected beauty in keeping things simple, I would be lying if I said that this making-do has made everything better.
Loss and grief pay their visits to me more now than ever, reminding me of what was and what will no longer be.
I feel as if by losing my grandfather, and by proxy some family traditions, another layer of my childhood has been stripped away.
I have entered a new phase of my adultness, and I am not quite comfortable in this new skin.
But Christmas is still coming.
Advent is still moving along, day by day, traveling towards Noel, just as Mary and Joseph moved step by step to Bethlehem.
And I remember that the first Christmas wasn’t really Christmas at all.
It was birth. It was mess, and pain, and inescapable and inconvenient.
And it was miraculous.
And so I will continue to choose to settle into this season, smack dab at the crossroads of both the beauty and mess – even when it often seems as is the mess is winning hands down- and live in the midst of the heartache, and disappointments, and the bittersweet, and the making-do and accept with open hands, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.
Because Christmas is coming.
And I don’t want to miss it.