I cannot remember a December quite like this one. Sometime in its first week or so, a kind of quiet wrapped itself around me. Usually I am a whirling dervish of holiday activity. I decorate every surface, I bake and trim and scurry and make and do. I arrive at this day, the last school day before winter break, breathless and flushed and a little high on activity.
But this year we got out just a few boxes. A Frasier fir, trimmed in lights and construction paper and olive wood and glass. The Christmas village Sam loves, that looks as if a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge could pop out of any door. A lone angel. The Advent wreath we bought the autumn we were married, trimmed with holly, cypress and rosemary. One Nativity, lit with a candle.
I’ve thought about those other bins in the attic, their wreaths and bows and glitter and shine. And then I have felt already that pleasantly full feeling of enough. In reading on blogs, in talking to a few dear friends, I find this simplicity everywhere, like we’ve all been reaching for the volume knob and turning it gently down.
We haven’t gone to parties. We went to our boys’ Christmas concerts and felt the lumps start, the tears sting, at how much taller they are this year, at the young men looking out at us with our babies’ eyes. I didn’t numb that ache with one more purchase or a double shot of busyness. I’m just feeling it.
Some love-made gifts have been tucked away for a little while now, and others came in brown boxes from our smiling UPS man. I’ve been baking a little and reading a lot. There have been long conversations with my husband over a glass of wine in the evening, and cups of coffee in the dark mornings. And over and under it all, this deep quiet. Something like waiting.
I had lots of good intentions for photography and crafts and activities to mark this season. And I was going to blog it all. But like the deep tone of a bell that you feel as much as hear, this quiet has held me deep down, and childlike, I have quieted too. Adoration and celebration and worship can wear different faces and speak in whispers.