Holiday Tradition

Mary Wasn’t Ready Either

“Nine days til’ Christmas!” the radio announcer proclaimed in a voice much like a Who in the 2000 version of The Grinch.

I imagined his tiny teeth and coiffed hair proclaiming the minutes ticking by to the Big Holiday as I turned the corner on to the major highway on my way to work.

We’ve been hustling and bustling with packages and bows. Dodging Suburbans in parking lots and honking at stop lights. Just like the travels on their way to Jerusalem for the Census. Right?

Christmas is coming and I’m not ready.

I’m not ready for the waves. Waves of excitement. Waves of grief. Waves of anxiety that come with the planning for pulling people who love each other together in a room for a purpose we easily forget in a gift giving world.

As I drove and listened to celebrities sing about holy nights, I paused and thought of Mary. She wasn’t ready. She didn’t ask for this baby at all.

I didn’t ask for grief. For missing. For aching. For the need for reinvention and the embracing discomfort to push through to potential. I didn’t ask for the mystery of the “What the heck – this wasn’t quite how it was supposed to be” moments.

Mary didn’t either.

And yet, Jesus came.


Hope in the form of an infant, on a cold dark night and with him came the angels and the promise of healing and restoration and wholeness. Can you imagine witnessing all that potential just laying in scratchy straw?

A woman surrounded by men in awe. Probably telling her what to do – how to swaddle, where to sit, what to consider next.

And in the confusion, I’d like to hope peace came to her that night. In some form or another as she sat and wondered, “How will God use me in this?”

I’m not ready for the mysterious of mix of hurt and hope and sparkle. I’m not ready for the shadows looming, his empty chair, the small talk at holiday parties.

I’m not ready.

And yet here we are. “How will God use me in this?”

So, I start to pray.

I’m praying for the miraculous possibly found at a home-made table surrounded by beautiful, broken, seeking, healing people. I’m praying for peace as we sit among the fallen nettles of a tree-farmed pine tree under twinkling lights.

I’m praying for toasts and witnesses and a squeeze of my hands or shoulders or a kiss on the cheek. I’m praying for the Holy to come and be with us and those who can’t or won’t be in my living room.

Nine days ’til Christmas!

Turning left, I pulled into an icy parking spot at the local King Soopers.  I rushed in to buy green pears and soft cheese. Simple offerings for the Holiday lunch at the office. After paying and slipping on wet linoleum, I started to fumble for my keys in my pit of a purse. Looking up, I caught sight of something special.

Both wearing printed pajamas and snow boots, two small children walked hand in hand with their tired- looking mother. They stomped and they hopped and they wrestled for a cart. Children in pajamas at the grocery store. Beautiful.
Whispered prayers and wondering hearts. Beautiful.

Incomplete to-do lists, anxieties, hopes and healing. Beautiful.

I’m not ready for Christmas – I’m guessing Mary wasn’t either.

What a beautiful thing.

52 Thankfuls


52 Beautiful Things to Be Thankful For (in no particular order)

  1. My husband
  2. It’s snowing!
  3. My mom, my dad, my brother
  4. My in-laws
  5. The big front window in our living room that lets in light while we watch the world go by
  6. I was taught to cook
  7. I have a job
  8. Coloring books and Prismacolor Pencils
  9. Coffee – always, always coffee
  10. Slippers
  11. Growing Opportunities – even when they are so uncomfortable you think you might burst
  12. Our new house
  13. Old friends – the ones you’ve known since braces and pimples and your future was predicted in a game of MASH
  14. New friends – the people ushering you in to the next stage of who you are meant to be in the world.
  15. White wine
  16. I live in Colorado
  17. I have a college degree – Go Buffs!
  18. Essie Nail Polish
  19. Rest Days
  20. Yoga
  21. Sunshine
  22. Do-Overs
  23. Biscotti
  24. The Mountains
  25. Fireplaces
  26. Heat
  27. People who write books
  28. Books
  29. People who read my blog
  30. I was born in America
  31. Fancy breakfast – Eggs Benedict Please
  32. I can still hang out in the house I grew up in
  33. Bicycles
  34. Hard Work – it means our efforts matter
  35. Mentors
  36. Craft Beer
  37. The Internet
  38. Family Traditions
  39. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  40. Clean, running water
  41. Fresh Flowers
  42. Prayer
  43. Creatives
  44. Roots & Wings
  45. Crock Pots
  46. Modern Medicine
  47. Writing
  48. Pens – fine point, black ink
  49. Dylan’s handyman skills
  50. Happy Hour
  51. Lifelong Learning
  52. New Beginnings

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. I hope you find something to be thankful for today!

Three Words

Three words. Paid Time Off.

What a gloriously beautiful week of vacation I had. Time to sleep, time to read, time to laugh, time to eat. And eat. And eat. Time for gifts and family and brunches and egg nog and stockings and celebrations. I am thankful I work at an organization that allows for paid vacation. I needed a break.

Three words. “First Married Christmas”.

I love Christmas and my first married one went smashingly well. What caught my attention this year was that everyone felt the need to point out that this was the first Christmas of significance between Dylan and I. I felt strangely pressured to make the holiday significant. We chose to spend Christmas Eve just the two of us and I made crab legs. Delicious, splurge the budget, crab legs. IMG_2117

We did not go to church (the first year of my whole life). Instead we drove around to look at Christmas lights, and watched “Elf”. It was enjoyable and I very much enjoyed the calm before the family stampede, but in many respects, the night felt no different than the 6 Christmas Eve nights I had spent with Dylan before. There were just less people around. Taking the pressure off of myself, and giving permission to live the moments as they unfold. Traditions will develop for our little family, but this, too, is a process. I get to choose how to navigate this new territory of Christmas traditions as an “us”.

Three words. A White Christmas.

It snowed! And in fact, it is still snowing and winter has arrived. The idyllic flakes of white magic continued to fall from mid Christmas Day until late in the evening. The frozen crystals painted a backdrop that was intended to truly capture our “First Married Christmas” just like the ‘ol days. You know those old, nostalgic Christmas Card scenes that float around with images of the 1800’s on them? The snow flakes are embossed, textured, glittery. The old church gleams and gentlemen in caps and ladies in outrageous dresses that weighed eight tons look flustered because they are carrying packages for twenty? Did Christmas really look like that for them? I want to update those images and include a more picturesque version of today’s reality.  What would you put on the cover? I’m still trying to decide. Here is a picture of our “First Christmas”. I am not stoned – I just have deep set eyes. Don’t look at the eyes, it is my hair that looks great. And oh, those snow flakes.


Three words. Christmas Number Four. 

Despite efforts to condense Christmas celebrations with a brunch held at our house, we still hustled and bustled our holiday cheer to four different family celebrations. (Did this phrase come about because women in those ridiculous 1800’s dresses had to bustle their apparel before they could move briskly across town? This is all becoming more clear.) With each event or stage in the marathon my heart swelled. How did I get so lucky to live so close to my family, to want to invite not only my parents and brother and his friends to our home, but to include grandmas and aunts and cousins. I am blessed to come up with creative gifts for exchanges and humorous antics to share at the dinner table. I’m spoiled beyond belief and bask in gratitude for the humans that love upon me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The need to summarize thoughts and collectively label my experiences each week has challenged me this year. Do I need to implicitly spell out my intentions, or am I doing a good enough job painting a picture that you can follow along? No really, I want to know what you think. This week, there was so much beauty in the in-between space in holiday happenings. I was giddy and to be honest, a little intimidated at the prospect of creating my own family holiday traditions. I have, after all, spent the last 20 or so years participating in Christmas in the only way I know how. The way my mother likes it. I was sad I didn’t come running up the stairs in pajama pants that matched my mom’s. Stockings were opened at 2 pm, rather than 8, and on the couch in front of the fire rather than my parent’s big four-poster bed. (Sharing too much about my family’s personal boundaries?) Yet, each family continued to accept the small, detail oriented changes, that suggest we are all morphing into a new normal. We accept each other with open arms and seasonal joy, while continuing to navigate what it means to be our own little units. Think holiday mitosis. It’s mesmerizing, and yet the split, at times, can be a little shocking at first.

Three Words. Happy New Year.