Asking and Listening, or, The Places We’ll Say Yes

Sam loves setting up the Christmas village my mother-in-law gave me. . .

Joshua loves trimming the tree as a family. . .

John loves the Advent Book we’ve read together each December evening since the boys were tiny. . .

I’ll begin this post with an apology. If anyone who reads this feels I’m skipping right over Thanksgiving, and furthermore that kind reader will be roasting a turkey for twenty-five in just shy of three weeks and is up to her ears in stuffing recipes or a guest bathroom remodel, I’m sorry. This week I’m continuing to consider what I’m feeding, with a focus on the Christmas to come.

The reason is three-fold. First, I love Thanksgiving, partly because I think that even in our culture, we haven’t managed to mess it up too much yet. Family and feast can have their pitfalls, but we have largely left commerce out of the equation. Second, I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I’m not asking the to-brine-or-not question or mapping out a make ahead battle plan.

Finally, I know for me, for this planner-mom, the ironic key to living grateful in the now is to spend some focused time thinking about the weeks of December and Christmas itself. If our family tucks in moments here and there of aligning our holiday expectations with heart, time and financial reality, we can be more present in these weeks of gratitude and grace.

This post began with my own family’s answers when I asked them what the most important activity or tradition of the Christmas season was to each of them. What was most interesting was there was no hemming and hawing. Instant answers. It was delightful that all three activities happened to be home-centered and free. To add my own answer, I love the trimming of the Advent wreath each year. The first autumn John and I were married, we were living in Richmond, Virginia. We went to a huge arts and crafts fair, and came home with a pottery Advent wreath– four candle holders connected to a narrow circular basin, with a separate candle holder in the center for the Christ candle. On the first Sunday of Advent, I fill the basin with cool water and add holly and cypress and boxwood from our yard, and the candles. Together we add prayer and flame. My favorite thing. . .

So asking that question and really listening to the answers gives us a place to begin. These are the first things we’ll say yes to, the things we’ll celebrate around. Sam will get to shake out the white tablecloth that makes Carolina “snow” for the Christmas village and choose where we place the church. We’ll make a whole afternoon or evening of trimming the tree, with finger food and Christmas music and let Joshua plan the menu. We’ll watch the clock on December evenings to leave plenty of time to let the Story of Stories unfold as we open each door in The Advent Book.

And the Sunday after Thanksgiving I’ll be out with clippers and a basket, looking for trimmings for the symbol of our waiting, of our eager hearts.

So in these weeks, we ask, and listen, and allow space to be surprised by the answers. And in beginning with these yeses, we have the joy and humility of beginning to plan a celebration that is a family creation instead of a one-woman show.

So early in November I’m thankful to have a map of yeses to navigate the weeks to come.



9 thoughts on “Asking and Listening, or, The Places We’ll Say Yes

  1. Ruthi

    I love how you intentionally listen to your family’s wishes. Good reminder for me not to just “run the show”, but to ask and listen.

    1. adailyportion Post author

      Ruthi– It helps that these are such simple pleasures, and already part of what we do– it is just a heads up for me to keep enough margin around those particular activities to fully enjoy them. šŸ™‚

  2. Trish

    Beautiful, Missy. You have found the first step to conquering that “I-have-to-do-it-all” refrain that sings in our heads this season – to find out what’s most important to those you love. What a sweet family you have! And great traditions!

  3. Kimberly

    We love The Advent Book as well. šŸ™‚ I have been looking around at my autumn decorations and want to pull them all down and put up Christmas right now!!! This is not normal for me.

    This will be a year for new traditions for us and deciding what to do and skip. I think an outdoor creche a la Tasha Tudor may happen for the first time…

    1. adailyportion Post author

      That process of adding, keeping or letting go is something we enter into each year to some extent, and I think it is really healthy.

      Love the outdoor creche idea!

  4. Pingback: Two Women in December « adailyportion

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