I hope that you have been enjoying your Christmas season so far. Every year, I have grand plans to do big things with my family, but usually it just boils down to the same traditions that we seem to enjoy. One of my biggest goals this year is to enjoy it with Jonathan, who, at 3 years old, is just starting to "get" what Christmas is about. So, this is what we've been up to so far... We've been keeping up with our schoolwork, but with a Christmas emphasis. Matthew and I have been studying how Christmas is celebrated in different parts of the world, something I mentioned in my last post. Our homeschool group will be getting together this coming Monday, with each family sharing a little something about different ways this special day is celebrated. In preparation, Matthew and I made panettone, which is a Christmas sweet bread served in Italy. We all agreed it was delicious and are looking forward to sharing it with our friends on Monday! We hope to get a large portion of our school work finished before Anah comes home so that we can focus on her and spending time together as a family without having to worry about also finishing schoolwork!
Besides making panettone, I have been baking with each of the kids, making different treats to share with our loved ones. We have tried making cranberry bliss bars (a takeoff from the Starbucks version), snowballs, peppermint biscotti, cinnamon bun cookies and monster cookies. There's a lot more to do, but we've enjoyed trying new recipes.
Last week, our church had a Christmas program, which I always thoroughly enjoy. This was Jonathan's second year performing on stage. Last year, he spent most of it looking out in the crowd in sheer terror. This year, he did great! And the shepherd costume was just too cute. Of course, his favorite lion got into the picture as well. (Hmmm...a shepherd with a lion...consorting with the enemy?)
This year, we were also blessed by a friend who purchased a Christmas tree for us. I'm sure we are probably one of the few families that still puts up a real tree. Every year when we put the ornaments up, it's like reconnecting a little with your past. The kids groan when they see their handmade ornaments from yesteryear, but for me, it reminds me that my time with them is quickly slipping by. As we put the ornaments up, it is as if I remember all of God's faithfulnesses through the years past. It is a good time for stories, for remembering, for thanksgiving.
I have also been doing some work behind the scenes here on the site. Though it has been slow, I am thinking about and working on it. I am, however, giving myself permission to take it easy on the posting until the new year, so that I can enjoy this time with my family. I haven't written enough to have a supply of pre-written and scheduled posts, so I appreciate your patience with me. I have some ideas for future classes that I am working on and preparing for in the year to come and am trusting that the Lord will bring them into fruition.
Tomorrow, I will be going on a day of personal retreat. I know, it doesn't seem to make any sense during this holiday season, but I am sensing that this is what my soul needs. I am looking forward to a day of "doing nothing" with God, to dream, to plan, but most of all to sit in His presence. I've missed that. And I need it.
This brings to mind something Matthew and I discovered as we were learning about Christmas celebrations in Italy--the story of La Befana. I don't know if they still carry on this tradition now, but according to legend, Befana was an old woman who was known to be a fastidious housekeeper. She spent a lot of her time sweeping her home and cooking (sound familiar?). When the Magi came through her town, inviting her to join them on their journey to Bethlehem, she told them she was too busy. They went on their way while Befana kept sweeping and cooking. As she was doing so, she changed her mind and tried to catch up with them, but it was too late. To Italian children, La Befana is still on the journey looking for the Christ child, and it is she who fills their stockings with gifts and treats, in the hopes that one of the children will be Jesus.
As I thought about this story, I realized that I don't want to be like La Befana. Sometimes I get caught up in all the doing and find myself too busy to accept the invitation of Jesus to join him, or to spend time with my family, or to simply enjoy the season. I don't want to be full of regret that I didn't take those opportunities. As moms, we work so hard to make the holidays special for our family, but it is also so easy to miss the whole point and then end up regretting it later. I hope you'll join me in entering into the beauty of the season instead of letting it all pass by.