December 19, 2014

Christmas is Coming!

It is December 19, 2014, and Christmas is only six days away! I cannot believe that 2014 is coming to an end, and that the New Year is just around the corner. It always seems that once December arrives -- the month just flies by so quickly. Before you know it, it is springtime!!

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It always has been the time of year I look forward to most -- ever since I was a child. I was fortunate that my Mom made sure to give my brothers and me a special Christmas each year. Mom shopped all year long, and she was good about finding deals during the off-season. Her approach to shopping always meant that we would find interesting gifts under the Christmas tree. We didn't get big ticket items -- but then that was the way it was when I was growing up. I can remember getting toys, balls, bats, skates, Barbie dolls and clothes, etc. We didn't get fancy games (board games, yes) or electronic gadgets. Mom tended to buy us everyday useful types of things to play with or use. We did get clothes, but she always tried to provide a little bit of both.

With the four of us kids at home, Christmas was a time of great commotion. Mom made cinnamon rolls and we had to eat before we could open our gifts. We also had to wait for my Dad to get up. I can remember the house rule -- no one was allowed out near the tree until both parents were up. We also couldn't get up any earlier than 6:00 am. In those early days, that often meant that my Dad had little sleep because he was putting bikes together in the basement or garage. He usually finished late and only got a couple hours sleep before we were up and ready to tear into the gifts.

The funny thing is that even now (Dad is 81), we still have this same routine. We wait for him to get up, get his cup of coffee and settle into his comfy chair. Mom has the cinnamon rolls in the oven baking, and we are all waiting to open gifts. We also open our gifts on Christmas morning. Several times my brothers (when they visit) will ask if we can open them on Christmas Eve so that they can sleep in -- but Dad always says "No. If you want to open gifts, then you have to get out of bed in the morning!"

As the years roll by and I see my parents age, I think that a day will come when I will be alone on Christmas morning. My son will be out of the house soon, and that means that I will be spending my holidays alone. I don't mind really, but there is still something bittersweet about not having family with whom to celebrate the holidays.

Sometimes I like to think back to Christmases of long ago. I have a particular pen-chance for Victorian England, especially Dickensian Christmases. I would love to visit Haworth (right) sometime during the holiday season. This picturesque village is located in the North of England, in Yorkshire. It looks just like what I image would be a typical Dickens Christmas would look like. Haworth is well known for its most famous inhabitants, the Bronte sisters.

I am not sure why I have such an affinity for English Christmases, but I think it is because of my love of Literature, specifically British Literature. I think that perhaps some day I might take another PhD in British Literature, just to satisfy my love of learning. I digress...

In addition to Victorian Christmases, I also love anything related to Christmas on the prairie. I think this goes back to my childhood days of reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, "Little House on the Prairie" books. There is something about the mid-late 1800s America that also tugs a bit at the Romanticist in me.

Today, I spent the better part of the morning shopping with my Mom. This is something I have done for many years. Now, my Mom is not able to shop without some assistance. She needs me to help her navigate through the mall and stores. I know that some day soon I will not have this pleasure anymore. She is slowing down, losing her memory, and is getting to be unsteady on her feet. The experience has become more trying because she cannot handle the rush and madness of the shops.

I enjoy it all. I like to go and just shop, not even to buy anything, but to walk around and see the holiday displays. It seems like the shops and malls are not decorating as much as they used to do in the past. I miss that aspect of the season. I love the bells, the lights, the carolers. I love the snow and the mush, and everything that says "Christmas is coming!"

Christmas is coming,
The geese are getting fat,
Please put a penny
In the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
Then God bless you.

Christmas is coming soon, and again we will celebrate the arrival of our blessed Savior. I wish I had another two weeks to enjoy before the day arrives. This month has been chocked full of busyness. I finished the semester on the 12th, flew to Florida on the 13th, returned on the 17th, and completed grading on the 18th. Today is the first day I have had to rest and to enjoy my winter break. Before you know it -- it will be Christmas week, and then New Years week, and then school starts again. The days are zooming past at full-speed ahead. I am praying for a restful two weeks off before I have to begin teaching and school (at Regent). In all, though, I am blessed beyond measure. I am relieved and relaxed and ready to enjoy the end of the year. I pray the Lord will continue to bless me, my family, my friends as we all anticipate the birth of our Lord. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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