Advent Sunday is not far away as we head towards the end of November, and the time is marching onward towards Christmas. Here, it feels like a time for list making - who do I need to send a Christmas card to? Have I bought or made all the gifts for others that I had planned to give? Who is coming to visit on which day, and what food shall I prepare?
(image from cute-calendar.com)
All these things are extra to the real meaning of Christmas, and so I want to get them sorted out and done so that I can concentrate on Jesus. He is what it is all about for me. I have a service to prepare for the chapel where we are going to have an impromptu Nativity, so I want to organise some very basic costumes [wish I lived in Leicester, Ang ;) but I will improvise!] and I am really looking forward to taking the time for all of that.
Advent starts soon, so I have a couple of Advent cards that I want to send out, and I am keeping one for myself this year. I want to enjoy the experience of the waiting, the expectation, without being bowled over with 101 things to do. Lists seem to be the way to overcome it all.
Truth is, there aren't a lot of people I need to send cards to: perhaps my old Kindergarten teacher who is well into her 90s and not on the internet, and she always appreciates a note and some photos as well. Local friends will get hand-delivered cards, and more technologically-savvy but far-flung friends are going to get warmest wishes for a Happy Christmas sent on the interweb this year. Who thought that a second class stamp would ever cost 50p?
And the gifts - well, the list is a wee bitty shorter this year. Those young people I have been sending gifts to for years, but who we haven't seen in all that time - I really don't know what they want and whether they really like what I am sending, so now that they are all in their late teens, the gifts will have to stop. I have picked up various gifts for people over the year, and particularly the last 6 weeks when I turned my attention to the gaps on my list, so I don't have a lot of worrying to do on that front.
I know who is coming, and they are all coming on Boxing Day in the afternoon. There will be 14 of us to have tea that day, but all the branches of the family will contribute something to the table, and I shall co-ordinate to make sure we don't end up with 40 bread rolls and no pork pie....It will be a buffet, and quite relaxed - and they are all coming on the same day - yay! I do like to see them, but I want some peaceful family time too.
There are three Christmas puds in the cupboard, the cakes are waiting to be marzipaned and iced, and I shall probably buy a three-bird roast again, and perhaps one of those enormous turkey leg joints from Morrison's for me, and for sandwiches.
And for spiritual preparation, I can't wait to watch Ann Voskamp and Liz Curtis Higgs tomorrow as they broadcast, "Christmas at the Farm" live on their websites at 5pm here. I shall have to watch the recording later, but I am so looking forward to it. They both have Christmas books out, and I have bought both of them, as they are going to be a valuable resource for the coming Christmas services I will be doing in the future - I get a year off this year - as well as wanting to read them myself. Ann's book, The Greatest Gift, charts the genealogy of Jesus, through the Bible. Liz's book, The Women of Christmas, shares the stories of Elizabeth, Mary and Anna and reminds us that the Almighty really does value women. I'm also going to look for Delia Smith's book on Advent which is here on my shelf...just not quite sure which shelf....
I hope you can enjoy the season, whatever your beliefs, as a time of fellowship, friendship and renewal.