Prepare Him Room

One of the great joys of the Christmas season is the arrival of special guests. It may be a son or daughter who has been away at college or in the military. It could be a favorite aunt or uncle who has flown in for the holidays. Friends might be coming to share a holiday dinner. Whoever it is, you anticipate the arrival of your guests and prepare yourself and your home for their coming. And finally, when you hear the knock or the doorbell, you jump up, eager to welcome your loved ones into your heart and home.

That spirit and emotion are at the heart of Advent, a way of celebrating Christmas that may be new to you. Perhaps you’re aware of Advent but don’t know a lot about what it means or what you’re supposed to do about it. When you hear the word, you probably think of candles and calendars. While those are often involved in the celebration, they are merely symbols of what Advent is all about

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Twelfth (& final) Consideration: The Extraordinary

Last night I heard an extraordinary story of a single hummingbird.  You see there was a huge fire in the forest where the little bird lived.  As the trees burned, the animals whose homes were on fire ran towards the river.  There were elephants, raccoons, beavers, foxes, bears, and many others who gathered to watching it all burn.  As the fire’s destruction raged on, they stood on the banks immobilized by fear and awe.

But the little bird thought to herself, I can do something.  So she beat her wings as fast as they would go and, as rapidly as a bird can, she fluttered back and forth between the fire and the river carrying a few drops at a time to help put the inferno out.

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Eleventh Consideration: Silent Reflection

I grabbed Sabrina Ward Harrison's The True and the Questions this morning for permission to delve into a time of reflection.  This week makes room for that as people take the rest of their vacation time and relax - or in our case, work on our homestead.

(Yes. More planter boxes are going in... stay tuned.)

As I paused from the morning routine, I ran across this prompt: "In the silence I understand..." So I went with it while embracing my own silence.  In the silence I understand that mystery is incomprehensible. I know that there is more I don't know than I do. I realize I shouldn't workout directly after eating. I understand that this year is coming to an end... and then I found my writing stride.

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Tenth Consideration: Turning off the Computer

This tenth one is one I thought long and hard about the last couple of  days.  What should I post so I can put up something prolific on Christmas?.... (A time when I am sure you're all checking email and Facebook)

Then is dawned on me in such a simple way - I don't want to be on my computer on Christmas. I love connecting with people online, but today is a day to be with my community; to be with my husband and our family, to be with the Trinity -- all of them in unique ways.

So in considering what turning off my computer means right now, well, it means being present to what's around me and right now, it's not technology.

Have a blessed and happy Christmas and I will be posting 11 and 12 in the coming week!

A Gaelic Christmas Blessing

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Ninth Consideration: A Sense of Humor

Today I have tale about a Christmas Card that began with this photo:

Our first Christmas.  What a joy it was.  People loved this card because it wasn't super posed; we weren't dressed up.  We were just ourselves.  So we took their lovely compliments and the following year sent out this gem.

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Eighth Consideration: Peace-full

Two leaders died this week, both with incredibly different legacies.  One nuclear; one Velvet.  My context of both is drastically different: My picture, driven by the media, of Kim Jong Il is a crazed, power-hungry, slightly insane man.  My picture of Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, is a man of integrity, humor, creativity and passion.  This version was shaped by his friend, a fighter pilot from WW2, who was my professor.

I studied abroad in Prague during college.  It was a random choice – a time when I was seeking to identify my own calling and identity.  This small, formerly communist country, which one has to stay in for more than a week to realize the effects this had on it, changed me.  It was my first taste of learning of nonviolence, of meeting people who had drastically different beliefs than I did (or maybe I was just willing to listen this time), of living on the other side of the world.

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Seventh Consideration: Home.

“I’m not sure if people know what ‘home’ is anymore,” a fellow church member expressed during a conversation from earlier this year.

This comment struck a cord with many as we nodded and contemplated the meaning of home. As the Christmas season is now upon us, I can't help but consider home once again.

Many consider the two to go hand-in-hand this time of year – home and Christmas. Some wait to go home. Others work on creating a home, and more still do not have safe homes at all.

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Sixth Consideration: Traditions (That started in the 80s)

The 80s returned last night… in all their glory.   My husband’s employer (which will remain nameless to protect those involved) had their first themed Christmas party and it was also the first time spouses were invited.

As I crimped and hair-sprayed, I secretly wondered if this was a cruel joke and if we would be the only ones to show up in a full length sweater dress and neon jump suit.  Luckily, we were greeted by side pony tails, animal print spandex, and pop rocks – lots of pop rocks.

What was the bane of my week (“Seriously? 80s? What am I going to wear?” Etc.) became a delightfully fun event.

As I put on two inches of blue eye shadow, I screamed – with a little delight – “I look like my mother!”   When my hair creation was done, I was surprised to resemble my first-grade self.  A little girl who wanted a perm soooo badly that I believe I had three before I was 10.

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Fifth Consideration: Believing in Santa Claus

I have reposted the most reprinted letter to the editor in history for number five. It shows that sometimes faith springs up from the most unexpected places.  Even though the jolly guy in a red suit gets a bad rap at times for his naughty and nice list and gobs of toys, it is important to consider what this actual man stood for and believed in, so that we to may continue to believe in him.

Dear Editor,
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in the Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West Ninety-Fifth Street     

1897


Actual response from Francis Pharcellus Church, New York Sun's Editor from 1897
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Fourth Consideration: Food.

My holiday meals have been described as "foo-foo."  Our brussel sprouts with blue cheese and bacon, two kinds of stuffing, a brined organic turkey.  The triumph was last year's Thanksgiving - making 13 dishes from scratch.  It was a far cry from Stoffer's stuffing and green bean casserole.

I don't say this to alienate, segregate, or manipulate.  We cook this way because first and foremost, I have a soy intollerence, and almost every preservative laden food has soy in it.  If I chose the convenient way, I would be sick almost every day. It's amazing how for so long I chose to live with a stomach ache thinking it was normal.  Secondly, the food made with our hands just tastes better.  As declared on Facebook last night - I'm obsessed with cauliflower.  I used to hate it, but people like Molly Wizenberg taught me how to caramelize it ... there is no going back to ranch dip and dried out veggie trays.

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