December 25

I grew up on the outskirts of a small town. Surrounded by fields, my childhood home is peaceful. A fire in the fireplace, ornaments from long ago, Holiday Inn, White Christmas and celebrating the birth of a baby that changed everything.

Despite my childhood, with a few Christmases spent in Colorado with my dad, memories of Christmas are at mom’s house. A house that was built by my Grampa 50 some years ago. With the exception of a Christmas spent in Omaha to visit the cousins, every single memory is Christmas morning at my mom’s.

Until this year. A moment I knew would come when I married The New Yorker.

This morning we woke up in midtown Manhattan. I traded the peaceful sound of the crackling fireplace and wind blowing across the field for sirens, squeaky brakes, big trucks.

I had a belief that the world stopped on Christmas Day.

But it does not. I ran across the street to the deli for a bagel and Shmear, stopped in Starbucks, picked up some Dr. Scholl’s for my aching feet and presently find myself with many people on a train bound for Long Island and family.

Yes. This year found us celebrating Christmas with my family a little early. A lazy morning and the joy of giving doesn’t have to happen on the 25th.

I once had a friend say, “Christmas is a state of mind”. And this year I find those words resonating deep in my soul.

It doesn’t matter where or when, Christmas is Christmas.

Last night we were able to join dear friends for Christmas Eve service at Marble with the most amazing choir. They sang a song I had never heard before, but absolutely adored:

What sweeter music can we bring than a carol for to sing the birth of this our heav’nly King?

Awake the voice! Awake the string!

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

Dark and dull night, fly hence away, and give the honor to this day, that sees December turned to May. If we may ask the reason, say :

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

The darling of the world is come, and fit it is we find a room to welcome Him. The nobler part of all the house here is the heart, which we will give Him, and bequeath this holly and ivy wreath, to do Him honor who’s our King, and Lord of all our reveling.

We see Him come and know Him ours, who with His sunshine and His show’rs turns all the patient ground to flow’rs

Merry Christmas, wherever you are and whomever you are with.
May you be filled with peace, joy and hope.

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The Start of Fall

It has been a busy, full weekend.

I can say weekend, because I had yesterday off. It is a non-attendance today. My Jewish friends are celebrating their new year. And I appreciate a school district that respects our religions to give us “non-attendance” days, so we may celebrate. (Yes, Good Friday is a non-attendance day too. And for that, I am grateful.)

We headed down to mom’s for the weekend to enjoy the official kickoff to fall, the Pumpkin Festival. And as a bonus, Arta (adopted grandma) was in town from New Mexico. Rob got his first taste of the fest with pumpkin pancakes and sausage Saturday morning. And we returned later for pumpkin ice cream and the entertainment of the pie eating contest. We also stopped off at Ackermans to pick up some pumpkins for our porch. All things that signal the start of fall. And this week I will slowly take out my fall decorations. I will hopefully make some new ones. And the Zanettis will snuggle into the blessed time of autumn.

I love the fall. I love all things pumpkin, butternut squash and the freedom to put cinnamon and nutmeg on just about anything. I love that I can unpack my fall clothes. They’re warm and cozy and the right color for my skin tone. I love the smell of bonfires in the air. I love a good football game, and a warm beverage in my hand. I love the beauty in the leaves changing colors.

This weekend I noticed that change slowly creeping onto a few trees on my mom’s street. Just a small glimpse of deep red blushing the top of the tree. But soon that tree will be on fire. And it will take my breath away with it’s simple beauty of change.

Yesterday morning was quiet and peaceful. A thick blanket of fog covered the earth. I woke thinking about a conversation with a good friend the night before and staring out into this beautiful view:

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I’ve recently begun working on some pieces of me that need to change. Many years of bad habits and negative thinking that need to be reversed. I have been reminded that change is not easy. Oh, that wretched process to stop and think. I must decide to not do what I’m prone to do, but stretch out and do something different. Yep. Change is not easy. And sometimes I don’t want to do it.

But then, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I’m struck by those words, “To have life, and have it to the full.”

Or in the NASB version “have it abundantly”.

There are pieces of me that get in the way of living life to the full. And for that reason, I want to change.

And someday that change will be something like that beautiful tree. Something beautiful.

So welcome fall. Bring your change. Bring your beauty.