24 November 2010

Christmas Beckons

The holidays are upon us. They do that, springing out of nowhere on their little cat-feet. But for the first time in many years, I'm ready for them.

What with the moving truck showing up two days after Christmas, without her I'd be tempted to let things slide. I'd be tempted to put in a half-effort, to figure that next year is time enough for us to get it together and have a real celebration. But now, even when I tell myself that she won't remember it, I know she'll hold her first Christmas in her heart somewhere, in the part of her that tells her what it's all about, and I want that to be a solid place for her.

She makes me ready, her fair face peeping out behind hair that could use the serious and dedicated application of some scissors. For her, I want more than decorations thrown up at the last minute. In fact, the decorations don't matter so much anymore. It's the heart of the season that I want her to feel, right from the very beginning.
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I went on a retreat, once, and drew several pictures of trees. Most of them were green, even the one with the moonlight. But one was a tree in winter, naked branches surrounded by snow and grey sky. I shared the retreat and the pictures that illuminated it, and the most baffling commenter said, "The green ones are beautiful and speak of life and growth. But I don't know what to make of that [grey] one. It's so sad."

And I didn't get it, because winter is beautiful, too, all glistening white and warm lights beckoning from windows and getting to see the craggy glory of the branches. A different kind of beauty I could give him, a kind that reminds of longing and things that aren't complete, but beauty still. Like sadness is beautiful.
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Nurturing is a kind of winter, asking my soul to give up itself for another. I am woman, but it doesn't come natural. It brings me to my knees, making Christmas for her in the places my feet rest right now. But there is life and joy and beauty, alongside the conviction that we are walking a dark path, a night path, one that runs through groves of naked trees.

We're waiting, the trees and I, for something to make sense of the snow. Maybe that's what he meant, my commenter - snow is beautiful, but if that was all we ever knew, we'd grow tired of it. The cold would overwhelm and our hearts would falter. Mine would, anyway. But I'm not sure I could ever grow tired of spring.

Though it's here the hitch appears to lie: Would I love a forever-spring if I never saw winter's bleak beauty?


Linking with Emily and the Imperfect Prose community.


17 comments:

Lisa notes... said...

Oh, I am so NOT ready for the holidays this year. But I like to hear from people who ARE ready.

I love the seasons in my weather, and the seasons in my life make me appreciate God's gracious hand when He shows up in snow and when He shows shows in spring.

Misty said...

oh, sarah, our children ready us, don't they? they ready us for a true father's lap and for understand what it is to live by grace alone.

this whole passage:
Nurturing is a kind of winter, asking my soul to give up itself for another. I am woman, but it doesn't come natural. It brings me to my knees, making Christmas for her in the places my feet rest right now. But there is life and joy and beauty, alongside the conviction that we are walking a dark path, a night path, one that runs through groves of naked trees.
and this:
We're waiting, the trees and I, for something to make sense of the snow

oh these words i know. i am no artist, mind, but the making sense of barren, of too much bleak, of white that is too pure... and of the beauty of black branches.
your words here are lovely!!
i am happy you are ready for her... for her to have a mental space, perhaps photos later, to know the beginning. it is a sweet time.

Lauri said...

I love your thoughts about not being able to fully understand winter or spring without the other to pose as opposite. Such beautiful words!

Nancy said...

Nurturing is a kind of winter--those words spoke to me as well. I don't love winter. The Narnia passage about always being winter and never Christmas truly resonates with me. I need Christmas--God made flesh--to pull me through. Love your thoughts about needing one season to appreciate the other. Blessings to you in all your Christmas merry-making joy this year!

alittlebitograce said...

But there is life and joy and beauty, alongside the conviction that we are walking a dark path, a night path, one that runs through groves of naked trees.

those words spoke so much to me. that is where i am, finding beauty on this dark path through groves of naked trees. such beautiful imagery!

lately, i have found such beauty in fall and winter that as a child i never saw. it's as if one year my eyes were suddenly opened to the beauty that is other seasons. now i perch backwards on my couch to admire the lines of the naked trees and their elegant greyness.

Mama Zen said...

Gorgeous!

christianne said...

Sometimes your words leave me wordless because they are like soil deep, deep in the ground being turned over and brought to light. In other words, they make me go deeper inside and think and feel things that aren't at the surface. That is a very good thing (and an amazing gift!), but words aren't always at the ready afterwards.

This I will say: that your love for Mirren is beautiful, especially as it causes you to give for her sake something that you wouldn't naturally give to yourself.

Also, I'm pretty sure I would love that drawing without the leaves on the tree, too, but perhaps the commenter's response spoke to his own discomfort with emptiness.

emily wierenga said...

there is so much to this, but first: But now, even when I tell myself that she won't remember it, I know she'll hold her first Christmas in her heart somewhere, in the part of her that tells her what it's all about, and I want that to be a solid place for her.

sarah, this is mother-love. and then, thoughts of snow and understanding the beauty of bleakness and wondering about loving a forever spring... and no, i don't think we could, if it weren't for the knowledge of winter. we couldn't truly love it. you are beautiful, sister. lovely words.

Ryan and Melanie said...

I'm so grateful that seasons change, for I'm not sure I would appreciate spring without winter. In the same way, I'm so grateful that the seasons of my life change as well.

Beautiful thoughts and words.

Lindsay said...

THANK YOU for posting this.... i am not one to complain about the cold... we must enjoy this time too... scarfs and mittens and tights... because it is part of the cycle so we can embrace spring when it comes.

Danielle said...

O, how I love your heart Sarah. You don't save yourself for spring. The eyes to see are such a gift. I love

But there is life and joy and beauty, alongside the conviction that we are walking a dark path, a night path, one that runs through groves of naked trees.

I think of Narnia. Always winter, never Christmas. The object: kill hope. But God has given a hope that does not disappoint, even in winter.

Vicki Munn said...

winter has been difficult for me in the past, especially after the holidays. but to think of what lies ahead...is worth waiting for. i am starting to be content with the winter more so. a time to hibernate, stay inside with family, get to love each other better...snuggle. sometimes we go through a winter in our soul, and that is when i think we snuggle closer to God. He manages the seasons well...
your words were lovely, and i enjoyed them here.

writingcanvas said...

Winter has been hard to face for me as well, for many years. I've buried two children during the dark winter months . . . but joy is shining through again. And I've had to do it first too, for my children, to keep Christ in Christmas rather than ignore it all.

Thank you for sharing . . .

poetrythatjingles said...

I am a woman and I can relate,
lovely message,
keep it up.

Janis@Open My Ears Lord said...

Such a beautiful post. Full of the warmth of spring and the beauty of winter. Full of the knowledge that if we don't know winter, we cannot love spring.
And preparing for your little one. That she may have a first Christmas to hold in her heart.
Beautiful love.

Blessings,
Janis

Sarah said...

I've been trying to come by each of your blogs this weekend, but I've got the crud ;( Know that I appreciate your thoughts and comments and ponder them, even when I can't respond. Blessings!

Heather said...

I love the anticipation of Advent, and that is what the empty, gray tree makes me think of. It is an empty, gray grave that previews something to come.