A couple of staff members and I sat down today and wrote down what worked and didn't work during the Advent and Christmas season. There are quite a few things bearing down on us at the moment so it was a discipline to do it, but ten and a half months from now Future Me is going to LOVE that we made the effort.
And so partly to give us all a record and partly to give us all a chance to reflect on the 2010 Holiday Season now that we are out of it, I ask you this:
1) What food item was one of your favorites this year – a definite keeper?
I was visiting a friend and ate the most delicious cookies ever: Chocolate Cornflake Meringues. I know it sounds funny, but they have a fabulous combination of crunch and melt-in-your-mouth. Can't wait to make them myself!
2) Was there a meal or party or a gathering that stands out in your mind from this most recent holiday season?
A church family invited us to dinner between the two Christmas Eve services. After the meal, we sat in the family room while the children were going to bed above us. It's an old house, and the 7-year-old spoke these words to us through the floor vent, invisible but dearly, sweetly audible:
"Roses are red, violets are blue. Merry Christmas to all…especially you!!!"
3) Were you involved in a jaw-dropper gift? Were you the giver or recipient or an on-looker?
I knew about my first jaw-dropper gift in advance, since Snowman took me to the Boston Pops on December 20. But it was a spectacular moment when he opened an envelope from #1 Son to see a pair of tickets to John Adams' "Nixon in China" at the Metropolitan Opera in February. Snowman asked, "Did you get this idea because I told you I was taking Mom to the Pops?" And his older brother could say, "No, I had the idea the day before you told me about that."
And later that morning, I opened a package from the Domestic Goddess to find a $20 bill tucked in with a card that said "Puppy Fund." That one made me cry, for all kinds of reasons.
4) Was there at least one moment where you experienced true worship?
I don't think I'll ever forget the late Christmas Eve service of 2010, when I heard LP sing "Of the Father's Love Begotten," and Snowman play Handel, and later I stood in the midst of a circle of candle-holding worshipers to give the Benediction at exactly midnight. Everything felt right. Then we went out into a cold, clear night, stars spread out on a purple-black sky, and I felt the wonder of the wanderers who found Jesus. So sweet.
5) What is at least one thing you want to make sure you do next year?
Celebrate Second Christmas again. (Especially since Christmas will be a Sunday.)
BONUS: What is something you absolutely must remember to do differently… or not at all!
We never put any ornaments on the tree this year, except for a few that were gifts this year. I didn't miss them, exactly, but next year – well, this year — I hope to be in a better frame of mind, one in which I will enjoy handling them and hanging them and even putting them away, as I usually do.