Earth tilting! House warming! Jesus' birth celebrated!
What were we thinking when we gave away most of our Christmas decorations last spring? That's a question that came to mind when I opened our "Christmas decorations" box last weekend and found...not much. Yes, we had brought the 30 year old string of colored lights for the tree, a few unique tree ornaments given to us by friends...the red cloth that covers the tree stand...but the frenzy of culling our possessions in preparation for the move must have whipped us into thinking that we didn't need the white dove that sits on the top of our Christmas tree. Or the string of lights that we put across the front of the house. Or the tinsel swag that we wrap around the tree. Did we think that Christmas hadn't been invented yet in our future new home in the far northwest corner of the US?
Besides buying some new Christmas decorations, we have, indeed, needed to create new traditions for this Christmas season. We invited two people who are also newcomers to Bellingham over for dinner at our house. We invited two of our new neighbors in for Christmas cookies and cider. Both get togethers were a way to fill in the HUGE gap we created by leaving our best friends behind in Kentucky. And to fill in those pre-Christmas days where, when Lynne's mother was alive, we would have been cleaning house, wrapping presents and preparing for family, we went down to Seattle as a mutual Christmas present. We stayed overnight at the Queen Ann Inn, ate out twice, went to the Wing Luke Asian Museum, took in the Body exhibit, saw a Langston Hughes play called “Black Nativity”, rode on the monorail, went to Pike Place market and walked around downtown amidst the Christmas shoppers and lights. The top picture is of Macy's in downtown Seattle with a big star on the front. The picture of the Dungeness crabs for sale shows you what we could have, but did not send you this year for Christmas. This next picture is of Lynne buying one Taylor Gold pear for $2.75 at the Pike Place Market.
Ironically, we've been singing more Christmas carols than I have for years at our Unitarian church, which even had a children's pageant which put a positive spin on the "no room at the inn" chapter of the nativity story. This version portrayed Joseph and Mary ending up in the stable after the thoughtful innkeeper offered it as a desirable alternative to the noisy inn. Most of our neighbors have Christmas lights of some form on their houses. Our across the street neighbors are Jehovah Witnesses who do not participate in Christmas because of its close ties to the pagan holiday of Saturnalia, the raucaus Roman midwinter celebration. I like being reminded to re-think the Christmas tradition, which does feel like a mixture of pagan and Christian elements. This year the Solstice, just 4 days before Christmas, took on special meaning, as it marks the day when the earth starts tilting and traveling back toward the sun, and our days up here start to get longer. And to round out all these thoughts, Langston Hughes reminded me today (through the play "Black Nativity") of the glory of God as seen in music and dance. I am thankful for all the layers of this season.
So far, no weepy moments...
I am thankful for our warm and cozy home. Lynne and I are thankful for each other and for our pal Winnie. We are thankful to have work and sufficient income, we are thankful for our families, our friends (old and new), for the quiet, beauty and safety of our new home, for looking out the window and seeing three deer across the street. I am thankful that through this blog, I can send love and best wishes to many friends and members of my family, and I am always thankful for your emails, calls and letters. Even when I don't hear from you, I am thankful for your kind thoughts.