Reflecting upon hope, faith, love, and joy is a really excellent way to experience hope, faith, love and joy while waiting for something--whether the end of a semester or the Parousia.
However, after so many posts on Advent expectation, I haven't offered any Christmas blogs. My silence has a very good excuse -- I've simply been far too busy celebrating to spend much time with my computer. However, today is the eleventh day of Christmas and my last full day with my parents, so I thought I should compile at least one post about this holiday. Here goes!
In concert with recent interest in Advent, I have determined that once Christmas begins, I should celebrate it for all its proper 12 Days, rather than considering December 25 to be the end of the holiday. If I am going to wait for Christmas through four weeks of Advent, I'm waiting for a festival of 12 days, not a single night of sweetness and light.
And so, with my joy in my heart, I give you the highlights from this year's 12 Days of Christmas:
The First Day of Christmas (and the last few days of Advent, since I arrived on December 21st)
- Visiting with currents students, college friends, high school friends, and many more on the long journey from Alabama to Indiana.
- Reaching my parents' house a little early and surprising them. There are few sweeter sounds than people you love shouting, "She's home!!" as you open the door.
- Being asked to share "What Christmas means to me" at my home church's Christmas Eve service.
- Singing by candlelight on Christmas Eve
- Sharing our Christmas table with a college undergrad and a Fullbright scholar from Cote d'Ivoire
- Attending a Christmas open house hosted by long-time family friends, Jim and Barbara.
- Walking with Daddy through my favorite hometown park.
The Second Day of Christmas
- Waking to more snow than I've seen in years
- Canceling our shopping plans in favor of warm blankets and hibernation
The Third Day of Christmas -
- Visiting paternal relatives in Lafayette, Indiana. We saw two of my great-uncles and one of my father's first cousins. Perhaps most significantly, my father and his three siblings met and spent time together for the first time in years.
The Fourth Day of Christmas
- Seeing The Hobbit for a second time with my parents, both of whom are, like Bilbo and Frodo, humble people who are valiant and vital in eternal battles.
- Watching episodes of Designing Women with my mother.
- Reading purely for pleasure (specifically, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin and Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy).
The Fifth Day of Christmas
- Shopping at local thrift stores with both my parents. Daddy offered to chauffeur us through the still-icy roads, and Mama and I found such treasures.
- Seeing the new Les Misérables film in very good company
The Sixth Day of Christmas
- Seeing two of my oldest friends and favorite people: Kyle and Lindsay, the brother and sister who made up 2/3 of my youth group for most of high school. I thank God for the friends they have been and the people they have become.
- Taking a very cold walk with my father through the snowy night.
The Seventh and Eighth Days of Christmas
- Attending a New Year's Eve party with family friends, including several of my parents' former students. We ended 2012 by feasting, singing hymns, playing charades, giving thanks for the blessings of 2012, and celebrating with friends in Chile via Skype. We opened 2013 with s'mores, more hymns, storytelling, and prayer. Ever since, I have been praying that these good things would become portents for the year to come.
- Sledding with my father.
The Ninth Day of Christmas
- Having tea with Liz, one of my parents' student leaders, who has been a faithful pen pal to me over the last few months. We had lots of fun discussing adventures in cooking, possibilities for missions service, and more.
- Accompanying Liz to her Zumba class. I've been shy about trying Zumba, but I had so much fun, and I was proud that I was able to keep up for the entire hour. The session also renewed my taste for endorphins and helped wake me up after more than a week of sweets and hibernation.
The Tenth Day of Christmas
- Helping my parents and some of their students assemble welcome bags for international students. I grew up watching my parents labor for the sake of college students, but I am more humbled and impressed by their work each time I come home.
- Discovering that The Vicar of Dibley (a wonderful British comedy) is now available Netflix, and watching several episodes with Mama.
The Eleventh Day of Christmas
- Venturing one county north in search of Amish stores, and returning with items that are hard to find: cloth handkerchiefs, rye flour, yeast by the pound, and more.
The Twelfth Day of Christmas
- Tomorrow will be my last day in Indiana, as well as the last day of Christmas. I will drive an hour south to visit my dear friends Amy and Lennon. After spending the night there, I'll continue south all day Sunday and Monday. Please pray for safe travel as I return to Alabama.
I have rested more deeply on this visit home than I have in years. Last Christmas I was frantically working on my dissertation, and even over the summer I was preoccupied by a book chapter, travel, and moving plans. I was so thankful to come home and sleep late, watch movies, read, pray, sing, and snuggle with those I love. This Christmas was a long Sabbath after a wonderful but exhausting year. I'm eager to see what 2013 will hold, to return to work, to plan courses, and to see my already-dear students and colleagues.
Tonight, however, I am going to make another cup of tea, curl up on the couch, and enjoy one more precious night of Christmas.
Be merry, beloved.
What has been the merriest moment of your Christmas this year?