Today is the eve before Christmas. And its the biggest day of celebration for our family.
I've been purposely counting hidden gifts today as often as I can. I'm so tired and stretched thin, that any gratefulness I can offer for things given to me from God is precious and welcome.
Its helped me immensely. So much so, that in this moment of quietness, I decided to blog about it. These hidden gifts still have not made it to my camera, but its a certain step in the right direction to at least record them here, if not on my other blog, A Thousand Hidden Gifts in photo form.
First off, today I have been enjoying some Christmas music sent by family or friends to my Spotify lists. I love that we can see what others are listening to and that they think of things to share. Dubstep is fun, and so is a song that brought back lovely memories from a highschool choral choir I was part of. Music for the soul. Music reflects and guides our souls so much more than we would admit or realize, I think. And now I am listening to a fun Christmas playlist I put together of unique renditions of traditional songs. Love!
Next up I was enjoying the creativity of making a salad for Mom. The lettuce was such pretty colors of green and purple with all different textures. We had several different kinds to choose from. Then I grated orange carrots, chopped yellow pepper, and added red tomatoes. Black olives and green cucumbers will be added later for even more beauty and deliciousness. It made me happy to notice the colors and textures, and enjoy the rainbow in the glass salad bowl. Not to mention hungry. For a change.
This evening is the pinnacle of family celebration. First we cook and cook and cook together. Then we get dressed up and go to our church where Dad has a beautiful communion service. Then we come home and put dinner on the table. Dinner includes huge amounts of nice food, perhaps some wine, dessert, coffee, and chocolate. We eat by candlelight and use china and silver and take our time. There are often letters to open from each other or other reminiscences. After dinner, we gather in the living room where we open presents. Paper explodes everywhere and laughter and chatter is abundant. Everyone is warm and full and a little sleepy and in good moods and eager to give their gifts first.
This is where things have changed more recently. We used to spend the rest of the evening watching A Muppet Christmas Carol. Every year. We can all quote it, and we love it. But the past few years we've been going to church for the 11pm service, which means we don't reach home until 1 or after. So this year, we've decided to do the movie on Christmas. It won't be the same, but at least it'll still happen. Its not Christmas until we watch that movie!
We also always listen to the Kings College Nine Lessons in Carols radio broadcast from Britain This year if we miss it on the radio, I've found it online. The most meaningful carol is Once In Royal Davids City.
Our new tradition is going to the Episcopal church to their last evening service. They have a glorious choir and music and organ. And its beautiful and simple and candlelit. We leave, hearts bursting with the gift of Christ, humbled by the events leading up to it, hopeful of His return.
So now I am resting before all the celebrating begins, and writing out the graciousness I have noticed and received with thanksgiving today. And looking forward to those not yet received, but promised.
My heart begins to see the Christ who is here every day, offering gifts of unmerited love, offering grace and strength and hope.
Love that never ends.