Tree and hall are decked and resplendent in their seasonal glory. The stockings are hung from the mantel with care. Candy and baked goods overwhelm the kitchen table. Sadie is beside herself with anticipation. And I am still not really feeling Christmasy yet. I guess that's because there is an unsettling combination of the usual and unusual in our holiday celebration this year. Also, I've been combating a highly uncharacteristic lingering depression over the state of the world. Pollyanna won't come out to play this Christmas. Sigh. But, as Bing would advise, I'll count my blessings, instead of sheep, and list out to soothe my troubled spirit the strange and commonplace of this particular Christmas season to, perhaps, convince myself, that unusual does not mean unblessed.
The usual: I'm late in getting presents sent out. This is why God (and procrastinating and/or inundated humans, I'm convinced) created the 12 Days of Christmas. So, my heartfelt apologies to those still awaiting their annual partridges and pear trees from Western Washington. It is not lack of love, but lack of time that leads to my tardiness. Who knows? You may just find the bean in your Twelfth Night cake!
The unusual: My parents are not coming to visit this Christmas, leaving the house (and downstairs fireplace where they sit yearly struggling to warm themselves in our deliciously chilly Northwest abode) strangely empty.
The usual: We'll be going to Christmas Eve candlelight services tonight at our wonderful church. Golly-gee, I hope it's traditional again with Scripture and old-fashionedy Christmas hymns. Sometimes they mix it up with more modern stuff -- and, frankly, the more modern stuff (which invariably includes the wretched "Mary Did You Know?" and insulting "Breath of Heaven" -- two of the worst modern Christian Christmas songs EVER) sucks the holy life out of Christmastide.
The unusual: I could not find a Carolyn Arends Christmas concert anywhere, which totally bums me out. I'll be happy when she's done with her graduate studies and gets back into the business of making glorious music.
The usual: I have made so many Butter Caramels that I don't care ever to see one again until next December.
The unusual: We have to be back at church tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM to help out with the Community Meal. Since my folks are not out, Jason thought this would be a worthy use of our time on Christmas Day. As Jane Austen might say: he is only too good for me. My natural inclination on a lonely Christmas morn would be sleeping in and imbibing a whole pot of coffee, perhaps laced with whiskey. Jason is more noble than I.
The usual: We watched Elf.
The unusual: We also played over the course of several nights a new computer game called Christmas Stories: The Nutcracker. It was excellent, and I highly recommend it!
The usual: There is a honey ham in our fridge, awaiting a thorough heating tomorrow afternoon.
The unusual: I will probably go for a 6-mile run tomorrow afternoon while that ham is heating. Who knew that I would ever include that on a Christmas Day?
The usual: It's grey and cloudy and rainy and altogether satisfyingly gloomy to match my downbeat attitude. Though, to be fair to my beloved Northwest clime, I do in general love the wintry wetness. But, if you're in a mood to growl at the world, seeing shades of grey outside your window helps.
The unusual: The weather forecasters are teasing us with maybe, possibly, don't-take-it-to-the-bank-but-we're-just-saying-it-could-happen snow for Christmas Day. That would be awesome, despite what Jason (scarred by a childhood in South Dakota) might say!
Ah, but at this moment, "O Holy Night" is pouring out of my radio (KING 98.1 FM) -- a particularly gorgeous instrumental interpretation. And, despite my misgivings and general grouchiness, it will, indeed, be a holy night. Merry Christmas!