Every December my family performs many of the same traditions: cutting down our own tree, opening a miniature Christmas cupboard each morning and pulling out a slip of paper that offers a scripture, quote or story about Christmas. We take gifts to our neighbors, the girls earn extra allowance and then purchase gifts for one another at the dollar store, and on Sunday evenings we watch Christmas movies, eat popcorn, and pile too many marshmallows on our cocoa. I never appreciate Sunday as the Sabbath day so much as I do during Christmas season. While every hour of the other six days remains spoken for, the time after church on Sundays remains preciously ours. It feels like the perfect time to hold my chicks close and watch the travails of George Bailey because it is on Sunday that I most often feel that my life is fur-lined and indeed, Wonderful!
But the "getting ready" part of Christmas season that happens on the other days of the week can leave a dent. This year I have nursed my baby in my car in every parking lot in Highlands Ranch, and every store that has a changing room. I have bribed Elisabeth to the point that I'm bracing myself for all her teeth to rot out of her skull the first week of January from candy consumption. I have stepped back from scorched soup and overtired kids and asked myself, "Are we having fun yet?" We were invited to play the parts of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus in our church nativity last week and our "Jesus" wouldn't stop crying. I don't think Baby James makes a very good Jesus, Elisabeth solemnly informed me.
There is comfort in the certainty that another Sunday will soon arrive, bringing the promised peace of the season, and each night when the sun goes down the lights on our street blink awake, as if announcing that all is well once again. On days like today I'm practically waiting by the window. The Christmas music is turned down low, there are oranges and cloves simmering on the stove, and the children are nestled all snug in their beds. Sigh. Now it feels like Christmas.