Picture-Perfect Holiday

Christmas is a funny thing. Every year I do the same preparations, we bake the same goodies, and put up the same decorations. However, some Christmases just seem to be disappointing whereas others are delightful. This was a year of serendipity, of small things that made magical moments that I’ll remember for a very long time.

For Christmas Eve, I was singing in two church services and my daughter offered to come along with me to help decorate the church and participate in the services. She has a beautiful voice so we pressed her into service in our small choir. (We are five when everyone is there so having an extra voice was amazing). Not only was the music all the more lovely for the sound of my girl’s voice ringing in my ears, but the services ended with a magical moment.

You see, my church meets in a building owned by the city and their policy doesn’t allow us to light candles inside. So, at the end of the service, we light them on the way out the door, singing Silent Night all the while. At the end of the second service, we filtered outside into the dark, cold air, to find that it’s begun to lightly snow. Cars slowed as we gathered on the steps of the church, singing Silent Night with only the Christmas lights on the trees and our candles penetrating the darkness, and a light, fluffy Christmas snow coming down. It gives me chills even now just to think of it.

It doesn’t hurt that we had our Christmas Eve services in this historic chapel, which is delightful and reminds me of my very first UCC church back home in Iowa (although it was a bit bigger):


On Christmas Day, we went to my sister-in-law’s, where all 16 of us gathered around a large long table and feasted, even though for some reason the turkey didn’t get done in time. (We had ham. LOTS of ham. No one went hungry). After dinner, there was way too much pie and a Trivial Pursuit game that went on for hours and had all of us falling on the floor laughing. It was an extra challenge that the game was from 2002 so you really had to remember for the answers and I think I got new insights into my own personality. (I will go down into family history for a knowledge of Dollywood, George Orwell’s 1984 and the fact that La Manchas are goats).

I hope you had a picture-perfect holiday. If you didn’t, if you had one of those years when Christmas just kind of missed the mark, remember that there’s always another one coming, and that sometimes the best things are the ones you don’t expect. After all, I didn’t find any serendipity in my traditions, it was in paying attention to the little accidents that made magical moments.

Merry Christmas.


2 thoughts on “Picture-Perfect Holiday

  1. Mom says:

    I accidently started a new tradition this year. Since I was doing some badly needed deep cleaning room by room, I took breaks and stuck a few decorations here and there, a few at a time, instead of doing a whole house decorating project at one time. I didn’t think much about it until Heather said, “I love this, every time I enter a room something new has appeared.” So gradually, a bit at a time, for two weeks, Christmas entered our home. I came quietly, without fanfare, gently bringing us into the holiday season. And for once our house is not only clean and decorated with my favorite things, I’m not exhausted, wiped out by all the work. Guess I’ll put them all away the same way. Maybe that will help the letdown feeling when the holidays are over.

  2. Mardee says:

    That’s a great idea. I find the decorating / un-decorating to be a bit of a chore these days, especially now that the kids are grown and don’t really want to help. They did go with us for church on Christmas Eve to hear me sing O Holy Night, and Caitlin sang with the choir, which was awesome.

    I find myself already in ‘get ready for the New Year’ mode. For a very long time,. I’ve always taken the time off between Christmas and New Year’s Day to get the house cleaned and organized for a fresh start in the New Year. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take the time off this year so we’ll have to do it on evenings and weekends. Either way, it will get done as we need to rearrange some of the rooms to new purposes (clear out the craft stuff from the office, etc.)

    Thanks for the comments – so very nice to hear from you!

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