Category Archives: Holidays

Zoom Out, Then Zoom In To See Life’s Details

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Not all of the details of life are pretty.

Certainly we know people whose lives fray with messy edges. Sometimes, we are those people. (Tweet that)

With time and perspective we notice things that we were unaware of at the time. Details are impossible to see all at once.

I know that sometimes I want to cut out the stuff that isn’t pretty, flattering, or seemingly useful. But I risk cutting out things that make up a vivid life upon closer inspection.

I’ll share an example: I came across this photo from a long ago family Christmas. Just an average snapshot of life for a regular family.

Certainly life was not all rosy for them.

And yet…yet, there is so much beauty that was certainly missed the first time this picture was viewed.

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This picture hides many layers that seem to make an average shot, but there is more…

-I notice my grandma’s beauty. Shes about my current age here, all festive in red

-I see my aunt Kathy, only 11 years older than me. Just my daughter’s current age and I wonder how that could be! I remember how much care she gave to me as a child. Responsibility for me

-My grandparent’s three-legged Siamese cat Sammy lounges under the table, and I recall how I would rub that silky fur

-The tree in the corner, placed on a tiered stand my carpenter grandpa built

-Shiny little girl hair, once mine crowns a happy child’s head

-A high chair in the back would have held my younger cousins. I smile as I remember our antics and adventures

-Grandpa leans back in his chair, always the same chair…head of the table. In his everyday white t-shirt. He loved to watch the festivities on holidays

Unseen? I know the layout of this house, though I haven’t seen it in a few decades. I see the black doorknobs and remember how the paint gathered near the old locks. The craftsman style built-in behind Grandpa. There was a pantry behind that wall. I remember the feel of the huge vent on the floor just to the left out of sight. How I would stand over it and watch it blow my clothing with delight. Behind us there would be a coffee table with delights only out at Christmas. A bowl of nuts, walnuts were my favorite. Ribbon candy.

There is so much unseen. An average home, a regular family. All playing parts in the fabric of my family tapestry.

There were frayed threads. Ugly spills.

Oh, but the final product. What beauty, what texture!

Don’t crop out the small things. They are building upon each other to capture something that isn’t finished yet.

Share this article with a friend. Let’s look closer, together.

Guest Post by Pilar Arsenec- “Dancing With Angels”

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My final guest Advent post by my friend, Pilar Arsenec. Merry Christmas

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Dancing with Angels

Now that the Christmas season is upon us, I begin to reflect upon what it means to me.

Christmas has held different meanings through various stages of my life. As I’m getting older and have young children of my own, it holds yet another meaning.

I think my perspective began to change while I was pregnant with my first son. I remember going through old photos from my childhood and mourning the days of old.

The days when I would hear my maternal grandmother singing along to her favorite Christmas songs. All the while working diligently to prepare for her guests arrival.

Everything my grandmother did had a touch of class. She was a great hostess and an amazing chef. Read the rest of this entry

Shiny Brite

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I am sucker for old things, retro items that made it through decades in one piece despite their fragility.

I love to wonder who used them. What the story is behind them. Of course, the story.

Chatting with my daughter today, I remarked it was odd a radio announcer was listing off things about the early 1970’s as if that was “that” old.

She looked at me, in the way that only a 17 year can muster, “Mom, that was like FORTY years ago.”

And….?

These ornaments remind me of a parallel. To my daughter I am becoming somewhat of a faded cardboard box. Sure, there are beautiful shiny things inside. But, they are still housed in something somewhat old.

The irony is that like these bulbs the memories become brighter, the story more interesting as the box ages. I am becoming retro. Imagine when I become vintage! Thankfully retro is the new hip. I wonder if my teens know that?

Mom, the cutting edge of modern

“When Light Was Born” by Stacey Covell

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A special thanks to my third guest Advent writer. Please enjoy the inspiring writing of Stacey Covell…

When Light Was Born
By Stacey Covell

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It was nothing.
A non-event.
Except it wasn’t.

She was a pregnant, unmarried teenager.
He was trusting in faith and love.
They were both scared.
Still, in the dark of night they had faith.
They were following the words of their Lord.

A journey.
Days and nights.
Travelling slowly, uncomfortably.
She was nearly full term.

Pain. Labor.
No hospitals. No room.
Babies don’t wait.
A barn. Animals. Stink.
That star lit Bethlehem night.

A baby was born.
Naked, helpless, dependent.
The most humble start.
A new family.
Sitting in a barn.

The baby. A King.
In a moment, the world was changed.
Light was born.

Stacey is a fiction writer and poet.

She lives in Dublin, Ireland. She loves the green, but misses the snow in her native MN. 

She loves to see beautiful things come from the unexpected.

She blogs at One Beautiful Thing , please check her out!

And The Mailbox Sang, “Don’t Stop, Receiving…”

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I like Christmas cards. Yeah, I said it.

May I make the case for continuing this tradition of sending and receiving real, paper cards?

We are busy. I get that. I am taking a stand today, in rebellion against the countless articles and statements that say we are too busy for this old-fashioned practice. Ba-humbug to that! Will you consider three reasons why these cards matter?

1. People, relationships matter. We move across countries, continents. We change jobs, marry, suffer loss and celebrate great joy. Sometimes all we have is this simple card all year to catch up. It matters to people. It  matters to me. I want to know how you are, to see your hand written name, to know you are ok. I want you to know that you matter to me when you receive mine.

2. We are not designed to be Scrooge. Just because a national glossy tells you to cross people off your list if you don’t hear back in a few years, well, I contend that we send not to receive, but to give. This gesture of goodwill is not designed to be a game where we count. A scoreboard of how many people like us as much as we like them. Let’s send them because we can. Because we have hearts of love and generosity…

3. Which brings me to my final point. Generosity. Have we considered that those cards might be all the Christmas cheer someone receives? Someone might be housebound, unable to be out in the hustle and bustle. That piece of paper becomes a ministry. There is someone who might feel no one remembers her this year, a man who is burdened with responsibilities. That simple card might, just might, remind someone of why we celebrate. Love.

Are we too busy for cards? Are they a hassle? Sometimes I am. And they are. Then I pause, and reconsider, and decide to pull out my pens and stamps. It doesn’t matter if you send me a card back (though I hope you will), you’ll receive one.

Because I love you.

Let Your Homes Speak Christmas

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I was 14 or so when the collection of Christmas items began. My BFF and I exchanged Santa items in bold red and green for years, every chance possible. We even at one point had a Santa shower curtain and toilet seat cover. Tacky, I know.
We were young and it was the late 80’s. Enough said.
As my faith began to grow, my focus changed. I am not anti-Santa, rather, pro-Jesus. The collection shifted and reduced to special pieces that reflected our values differently.
We wanted our home to be a place of rest, peace. Not just jolly plastic figurines.
I was psyched when Dayspring came out with this Redeemed Christmas line. The last few years a gnawing awareness of a loose Christ centered focus irritated me. The temptations and distractions around us can easily jar our focus repeatedly.
I decided to start countering those distractions with purposeful placement of items that remind me of what, whom we are celebrating.