After many years of feeling either sad or stressed or just plain "Bah Humbug" during the holidays, I feel so blessed to have gotten back into the groove of Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the holiday season this year - from the food to the lights to the music and all the rest.
Our holidays started with Larry participating in "Hymns of Thanksgiving", a Boise tradition that has been bringing sacred music to the community for 10 years now. He had been invited to sing in the choir last year, but didn't feel he was ready for it then. This year when he was asked again, he decided to go for it. I'm so glad he did. The choir of over 250 voices along with a full orchestra gave a stunning performance on November 18, and set us into the mood of reflecting on our blessings as we entered into the holiday time of year.
Later that evening my brother and his wife came over for pie and music. Larry and Andy played guitars and sang songs while Kathy and I visited. So it was really a nice blend of quiet, peaceful time with just Larry and I, yet still having family connection to savor as well.
Once December came we somehow seemed to find just the right balance of celebrating ---participating in enough festive traditions and events to keep our hearts light without trying to do so much we would ever feel frantic or overwhelmed.
We put up our fake Christmas tree that we've been using for many years now. In true "Charley Brown" fashion it always starts out looking lopsided, bedraggled and rather pathetic but then turns out pretty once it's all decorated with our ecclectic baubles and the lights are on. Sometimes I long for a real tree, but this one works just fine as a place to hang ornaments, and it's nice that it's all pre-wired with lightst. Besides, my beloved says "I only kill things I'm going to eat." In a way that makes sense. It does seem a shame to cut down a perfectly good tree just to decorate it then throw it away after a few weeks.
We got out my collection of many, many Nativity scenes. I have big ones, little ones, elaborate and fancy ones, humble ones ... a hodge podge of wood, porcelain, metal, glass, gathered over the years. Some I have purchased. Many have been given to me as gifts. They are always a special reminder to me of what Christmas is all about.
We went to hear the Boise Chordsmen and others put on a Christmas variety with our friends Carolyn & Henry. We also went to the annual concert of the Boise Institute Choir with pals Carma and Emery. We had our Nampa friends, Larry and Judy, over for an afternoon of playing cards while our house was all decorated and Christmas music playing. That was a lot of fun. Then we went to the Boise Botanical gardens with my friend Katrina and had a blast taking in all those sites. We took plates of cookies to neighbors and went caroling one night with a group of friends.
We went to see the musical "White Christmas" produced by the Nampa Civic Music Theater. For the past two years we've had season tickets for all their productions and have very much enjoyed them.
(Photo from Idaho Press Tribune http://www.idahopress.com/a_e/top_story/unwrap-a-white-christmas-this-weekend/article_0fa20338-3ffe-11e2-b5e8-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=image)
As we did last year, we went to Arizona to spend Christmas with Larry's sons and the grandkids there. We also visited with my mother's cousins who live in Arizona and connected with some dear friends of ours we knew from back in the day when we lived in Ohio. We had a very special time with them. The whole time we were in Arizona was a really fun trip.
Before we left town we had my brother and his wife over for a holiday dinner of roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, special stuffing and all the works. We had a very sweet visit which reminded me all over again that one of the reasons we moved to Idaho was to live near family, this being the one and only place both my beloved and I would have a sibling near by.
So all in all it was a very nice holiday. We enjoyed special time with family. We had fun savoring the sparkle and glitz. Through it all we reflected on the birth of the Savior and what it means to us to have strong testimonies of Jesus Christ.
I suppose to some extent I will always think some about loss during the Christmas season. Having both of my parents die in December made me associate everything to do with Christmas with funerals instead of joy for a long time. Nevertheless, Christmas is no longer a time of grieving for me. These days the holidays truly are a celebration of fun, laughter, love and light.
For all it's magic, I admit it feels good now that it's all over to have everything packed up, taking down the tree, putting away all the decorations--sending them back up in the attic where they will belong till time to get it all out again next year. I'm ready to have things cleared out and get back to a regular routine. Still, even though the holidays are over and we are now marching our way through January, I'm still walking with a spring in my step and grinning with the spirit of Christmas.
When we put everything else away, I decided to leave out just one of the many nativity scenes from my collection so I could continue to see it and enjoy it all year long. This particular one I chose to keep out is one I received as a gift this year from my dear friend Carma. I just love it's simplicy, classic lines, and beauty. It reminds me of faith. It reminds me of friendship. It reminds me of how much there is to be joyful about, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.
Truly, I had a very Merry Christmas in 2012. I have no idea what this New Year will bring. But I do know this: I have a great deal to be thankful for. I'm especially glad to be living in Boise, Idaho I loved traveling over Christmas and spending time with people we love. We had such a good time. Yet, when it was all over, I was very ready to come back. Arizona will always be a special place for me - the place where I grew up and where I still have lots of family and friends. But this is home.
That, more than anything, has been the best gift of all. I feel at peace here. I feel home.