Waking up before dawn, I witnessed frost covering every twig, leaf and blade of silvery grass. I didn’t have time to take a picture, since I was rushing around trying to get too many December errands done, but I thought about the frost all day. It is beautiful, and we can only find it in the quiet season, this time of rest. And yes, you’re probably laughing at the irony of it, that at the very time the earth slows down and offers up time for us to not plant, not weed, not water the grass, we might be up to our ears in busyness. And if that’s true, know that it’s just a season in life and one day you’ll have the time to look up at a December sky and see the palest baby blue you’ll ever know.
And while those days of herding little ones through the wonders of Christmas are gone for me, I don’t mind. I’m happiest seeing what’s just ahead of me and enjoying life as it hits me. Can you settle into your days? Enjoy where you are? If you’re working crazy overtime, walk outside and enjoy the sun, even for a minute. If the only time you can break away for a breath of fresh air is at night, then do it. Yoga at sunrise? Sure. A stolen glance at the evening stars? Take it! When I had little ones, and then they turned into teens (no one told me about babies changing into hormonal teenagers!), I had a super secret stash of dark chocolate in my closet. When I needed a boost of serotonin, I would hide in my closet and unwrap a delicious chocolate or three, and that would hold me steady for the next five minutes. Until I could get my hands on a cup of hot Starbucks.
When I lived in Wisconsin, the only time I could get out for a walk or a run was after sunset. Long after. And for a season, we lived in a subdivision that had one street, going in a circle. One circle? One mile. I would bundle up and begin the first mile around in the very dark that only a place without streetlights brings. This place was out in the country, away from city lights, and one half of the circle had houses decorated merrily that dared the dark to dwindle their glitter and shine. But the other half of the circle? No one decorated for the holidays, except for one house that had a limp ornament hanging halfway off the tree, and it tinkled one Christmas carol, over and over. Every mile I ran meant a pass past the tree with the somewhat dissonant music chiming away in the dark, with only me to bear witness. I got chills from it. And not the “oh it’s twenty below and I’m freezing here” kind of chills.
Ever since then, I decided to bring color and shine and glitter into each December. I smile when I see Christmas everywhere in my house, and up and down my street. We all throw on our lights each night and dare the cold to snatch away the same happiness we felt when silky June evenings whispered to us.
See that cute sign I picked up for a song? Anything that glitters has my rapt attention. Wonder. This is the time for wonder. Wonder felt when a neighbor gives us a plate of Christmas cookies she labored over late at night. Wonder at the excitement of children waiting for Christmas Eve to finally show her face. Or the kind of wonder that wraps you up this time of year, remembering holidays long past. The warmth of family. Traditions carried forward. Wonder at the trees casting hauntingly beautiful shadows across snow. Across brown leaves that we reveled in a mere month ago.
My first year out of college found me working in a major city a long way from home, and at the last minute I decided to fly home, on Christmas Eve, as soon as I could scoot out of the office. I desperately wanted to make it back in time for Midnight Mass, because I knew my mom would be singing, and I wanted to be there in the warmth of that night. But a busted engine on a plane in Detroit kept me stranded until almost ten o’clock. I went to join other weary souls at the bar in the terminal, and while I sipped a festive drink, I started my own singing of the carols right there. I might have been missing the church choir in all their regal splendor, but we all piped up and joined in and shared Christmas Eve together. When I straggled into church a bit past midnight, my mother spied me tiptoeing in and when we finally hugged, I noticed her tears. We were together. I was home! Wonder of wonders, that plane took me to Syracuse in time for Christmas.
I hope this finds you somewhere warm and happy. Even cold, as long as you are happy. But I’m learning about happiness and her secrets. Somedays you have to make your own kind of happiness. It might mean sneaking into your favorite stash of candy or a drive-through hot chocolate with extra whip, or it could be hanging out another strand of lights. Find the wonder and you’ll find a good measure of happiness there too.
Have a beautiful week sweet friend.