Things are quiet in our little home tonight. It’s been a good day. The sun rose into a clear sky as I drove to Bethel this morning. It was the first Sunday of Advent. This year grandparents are reading the Advent Meditation and their grandchildren are lighting candles on the Advent wreath. It is a beautiful tradition. There was a beautiful spirit in the church today. The place was warm with love and buzzing with “Christmasness.” It’s Christmastime at Bethel and out on Bittersweet Farm.
Down in the corner of the living room is our first Christmas tree on Bittersweet Farm. It is a Frazier Fir that grew for the last ten years or so out on the slope of a quaint farm just short drive though the countryside from here. Lois and Hope and I took a wagon ride out to where it grew. It is the tallest tree we have ever had. I think our ceilings are about nine feet but I had to take almost three feet off the tree to tuck it into our living room.
Hope and I wound it with white lights. It’s just down there fragrant and glowing as if to say “Merry Christmas.” We have another tree glowing in the east-facing window of the Carriage House and yet another glowing on the front porch. We have as many Christmas trees as we do people.
As the first Sunday of Advent comes to a close and we ready for bed we are awaiting the advent our our latest grandchild a baby girl due to our oldest daughter, Holly and her husband Jesse and their son Aiden Redemption. She will be number eleven of our grandchildren.
Before I Go This Week. Here is a Christmas story I wrote many, many years ago:
I Brake for Christmas
December days are whizzing by like a run-away sled.
Did you ever find yourself going lots faster than you felt comfortable …right on the edge of being out of control? My first skiing experience was like that. I courageously pushed-off and concentrating on keeping my balance overlooked the importance of keeping my speed under control. At 200 pounds plus (and I do mean plus), it’s important to keep zig-zagging back and forth to keep your speed under control. Three quarters of the way down the slope it occurred to me that no one had ever taught me how to stop gracefully.??At the bottom of the slope were dozens of skiers making their way back and forth in front of a healthy sized creek. I did an awkward sort of lay out slide to keep from flattening two little girls in expensive ski outfits. They looked at me with a mixture of surprise and disdain and shuffled on. I got up trying to regain the composure I never really had while wiggling around so twenty or thirty pounds or so of snow would come out of my pants. (That’s why they wear those one piece things!).
I spent the rest of the day trying frantically to keep under control. When I did, I found the slopes to be a delight, when I didn’t, I attracted a lot of attention from those around me with more poise.
“Keep your weight on the downhill ski,” They kept telling me. When I did I made a little half-circle and started back up the hill. This way I could keep my speed under control. As long as I did that, skiing was delightful and safe—and less embarrassing.
December these days and modern Christmas is like a ski slope. It can be great fun but you really need to learn how to keep your speed under control.
It seems so incongruous to celebrate a humble quiet backward birth with the kind of bluster and ballyhoo that surround modern Christmas. Please don’t mistake me for a distant relative of Ebeneezer Scrooge, but I’ve found that just a little zig-zagging along the slope of modern yuletide can add to the delight of the season. It passes by so quickly and it’s gone and all the wonder and beauty and music fade back into the routine. Learn to slow it all down this year. You will be so glad you did.
This evening I serenaded the children in their beds with the guitar and the harmonica as they chirped out Christmas requests. We prayed and I came downstairs and put a quiet recording of calm, peaceful carols on the stereo and let my spirit drink in the quietness and solitude and peacefulness and purity and wonder of Christmas and the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Summit Township, Michigan
December 3, 2018