Monday, December 22, 2014

Reality Check

Gingerbread Cookies: Southern Living Edition

I am a romantic.  Especially during this season, I have these idyllic notions of how our home should be decorated, how my baking should taste...and smell...and look, and how my home-made “simple gifts” for dear friends (and our beloved neighborhood State Trooper), expertly tied with raffia and a Christmas plaid bow should look.  Last year, I refused to join the fracas of getting out Christmas cards before Christmas--GASP!  And thus, the “Joyful January” card was born.  If you really want to get sticky about it, there are twelve days of Christmas that begin on December 25--historical rationalization is a beautiful thing.  The ever-popular ditty that includes those five golden rings also supports my case. 

Joseph Bottum’s recent post, Joyful Surrender: A Rhapsody in Red (and Green) brought a grin to my flour-smudged face--and a “Yup, that’s just what I needed to hear”.  Not everything will be like Martha (Stewart, that is) was here to help.  I adore our simple but festive decorations, and myriads of sweet-smelling candles go a long way.  And, hand-made cards from our precious college kiddos.  Don’t get me wrong--I sometimes pine (Christmas pun) for the Spode Christmas ware--or just one more poinsettia placemat set--with matching napkins.  I thoroughly enjoy taking fireplace shots--I grew up in South Florida; so, I’m forgiven for that obsession.

As one of my favorite Christmas songs reminds listeners, it was not a silent night.  It was loud, it was wild, it was chaotic--it was real.  And, that is the ideal setting for what Bottum so beautifully calls “the impossibly boisterous fact that God has intruded in this world.”  We should “break out into song, if you can. Break out into sentimentality, if you can stand it. Break out into extravagance...and Christmas doodads and the branches breaking under the weight of their ornaments. Break out into charity and goodwill. But however you do it, just break out.

So, I will “break out” the popsicle stick-framed nativity crafts of yesteryear (2004-2009), I will “break out” the tried-and-true Snickerdoodle recipe and put aside that multi-adjective chocolate decadence that I pinned last night, and I will “break in” the LEGO Santa and Christmas tree, meticulously designed by my Ninja.  I will embrace the reality that has been so Graciously given to me.  It is a gift.  Unmerited. Priceless. Inexpressible. 

Gingerbread Cookies:  Tabulations Edition


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