Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas 2021

It is past midnight, and Old St. Nicholas just passed by. Luckily, we are very good friends, so instead of getting upset I was awake, he sampled some gingerbread cookies and hot apple cider while I showed him my Christmas decor.

“I scaled things back this year,” I admitted, as we stopped in front of the bookcases. “I wanted to do more, but I’ve really been feeling a bit sad and… not myself.”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed he, so boisterously I was afraid he’d wake the neighbors. “You’re forgetting something very important, my dear.”

“And what’s that?”

“Well, just this: that you will never celebrate the same Christmas twice. In spite of all the traditions and rituals, every year leaves a little of itself in your holiday. It is very nice to think about past Christmases—even I have my favorites—but don’t measure up the now to the then. All the things you have managed to do this time, in spite of this year and in spite of yourself, are quite enough.”

This seemed sensible. Still, in a stubborn gloom, I could not help thinking about those past Christmases, as he rode away into the chilly forest sky.

There was that time when I was little and we had all stayed home really ill, but someone gave me the most gorgeous porcelain doll (with a burgundy red dress and brunette curls), which made things better. Or the year when my aunt’s friend’s son showed us Mad Libs for the first time and put us kids in stitches with hilarity. A whole string of Christmas Eve candlelight services flutter by, bittersweet memories in their absence this year. Except that one where they had me play Joseph… now that was silly. I should’ve retired after my first role in preschool: an angel in a white gown with a tinsel halo!

But Christmas is not just for children; you just have to look harder for it these days.

And it shows up… in happy wishes from friends far away. In carols and Baroque strings on the radio. With Santa parades (in spite of the rain and cold!). When neighbors line their tiny deck with multicolored lights. In precious time spent with family, eating and giggling and playing games. And always, in a life spent with Jesus, the Light of the World.

Merry Christmas to all celebrating, and peace to everyone. ❤️

Catching My Breath – Christmastime, Dante, and Beyond…

After patiently saving vacation days, today I can at last disconnect from work emails and other stressors.  I really want to slow down even more over my almost two-week holiday, beginning with these last few days of Advent.

One of my favorite family traditions is putting up a tree with my brother and sister.  My grandparents gave it to me years ago, and over time the three of us have gathered a collection of mostly red and gold ornaments for it.  Some are old pieces from our family, and others we purchased ourselves, many from Hobby Lobby.  The tree topper is new this year and being from Dollar Tree was incredibly affordable!

I have a little white tree I decorate as well (not quite so elaborately).  This is probably its last year, as it is turning yellow.

As you might imagine, it’s this time of year I like to get a lot of reading and studying in, as well as planning for next year’s reading.

I’m still perusing the archives of The Word on Fire Show, the Catholic podcast I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, and today I listened to an excellent episode about Dante’s Divine Comedy.  I’ve been “unreading” this book for a year or two, finding it difficult to get past the first cantos.  Bp. Barron gives an intriguing overview of the entire story and symbolism, and now I’m itching to give it another try. 

I have the Longfellow translation, with illustrations by Gustave Doré.  Doré’s style can well be summed up as “dramatic,” which is one of the reasons I chose this edition.  And, you know how I LOVE those woodcarvings

I’m debating whether to participate in any reading challenges next year.  These are the ones which entice me:

  • Moby-Dick 2019Fanda mentioned that 2019 is the 200th anniversary of Melville’s birth, and that Brona of Brona’s Books is hosting a read-along!  I dearly want to re-read Moby-Dick, and it would be so much fun to do it with other bloggers.  This will likely start in February or March, so I have time to decide…
  • Mount TBR 2019 – This is about reading unread books you already own.  I’ve done this before and found it very satisfying, even when I didn’t complete it.  Plus, it counts books you start during Christmas break as long as you have 50% or more remaining in January.  *cough* Dante *cough* 
  • The Classics Club – Committing to 50+ classics in at most 5 years. For someone who is terrible at challenges, the idea of an “epic” challenge oddly appeals to me. 
  • Back to the Classics 2019I attempted this in 2014 and failed miserably.  Still like the idea, though! 
  • Complete Sherlock Holmes re-read – Yeah, another personal failure.  This one I attempted to host in the past couple of years, and embarrassingly I didn’t stick to it myself.  It probably makes more sense to restructure it as a marathon, rather than spread it out over a year… Still want to do it at some point.

The other thing I’m trying to figure out is whether I’ll have the time and energy to podcast next year.  It remains to be decided…