Advent is nearing its end.
The waiting and preparations are almost over.
I still have some baking to do, but everything else is ready.
The gifts are wrapped and ribboned.
Place de la Concorde (a.k.a., our house) has been ready and waiting for almost a month.
Every celebration necessitates a prepared venue, and Jesus's birthday is no exception.
I'm human. I need symbolism and tangible reminders.
Preparing our house... and living in a prepared house... shape my experience and my heart almost as much as giving gifts.
But the blatant materialism and commercial bowing to the almighty dollar leave a metallic taste in my mouth,
not to mention huge heaps in our landfills.
So I try to
use things I have,
use nothing artificial that should be real,
be creative in using things that are as free as the air.
Here's a festive tour of Place de la Concorde:
Amanda made this swag from tree-trimmings and hung it on our front door.
Our first Christmas tree as a household. We named him Joshua... for two reasons. One, in honor of the boy named Yeshua whose birth brought everlasting hope to the world. Two... well, a certain band produced a certain great album named Joshua Tree...
Our Joshua tree has quite a story. We three shivered through the cold, looking at tree after tree. Finally we picked one up and lugged it with us. Then we saw Joshua, looking as though he knew we'd come. We set the other tree smartly on its stump and struggled with Joshua to our mode of transportation - my car. Ebony's pain job isn't the greatest, so I didn't mind if Joshua scratched her a little when we tied him on the roof. What else do you do when you don't have a truck? That was my reasoning. Bekah said she felt she had no pride left. Manda kept saying we were crazy. But people in other cars kept pulling alongside us at stoplights, laughing, and giving thumbs-up to the great green thing that dangled its head over the windshield.
I bet Joshua never dreamed he'd make so many people smile.
We each got a special ornament to mark the year. The peace dove is mine...
I'm sure the star that guided the wise men was unparalleled in beauty,
but I think ours is a pretty good replica.
My nativity set has survived three years of active admiration by second-graders and is very happy to be repaired, reassembled, and surrounded by green tree-trimmings. I talked about this scene last post, so I won't elaborate more than to say that some of the moments of deepest worship and awe I've experienced this season have occurred while watching this Nativity in the soft lights Joshua bears.
These fat birds are so endearing. At least, I think they are. Opinions are always subject to diversity.
When I was teaching school, I used gift money from my kids to buy this set of angels... and they've become sort of a Christmas tradition for me. I love unpacking them and smiling at the gift each one bears. This year, they grace our table with their presence.
Bekah's mom got a bag of the pine cones in South Carolina and gave them to us. They're huge and so perfect.
Even our chalkboard was festive for a while. At the moment, she bears a reminder of upcoming bills. A chalkboard of many personalities she is.
JoAnn Fabrics had these letters on sale. And (of course) I had a coupon, so I paid fifty cents a piece. The greens I clipped off a bush in our yard. This is the view while washing dishes.
Greens from a bush, a pine cone from Laurie, and cookie-cutters we already had...
Free decor + fresh decor = good decor, in my book.
I updated the coal scuttle and branches outside the back door with bush-greens, pine cones, and ribbon and lights I already had.
Our decor might not compare to this beautiful home, but I'm content. It's simple. Comfortable. It fits us.
The guests we've had seem to like it, too.
Speaking of guests... my family hopes to come visit me next week! Some of them have never been here, and I've missed them terribly.
I have to work Christmas morning, so going there isn't possible. I felt rather melancholy about working, then coming home to an empty house when my friends have gone to their families... until I became ashamed of myself. Some of my kids can't go home for Christmas and one has no home. It's OK for me to have to work. I'm planning a Christmas morning surprise for them. That makes me so excited, I feel like a kid on, well, Christmas morning.
At least I have family. And I will get to spend time with them and watch my sisters' faces as they open their gifts from me. Besides, isn't sacrifice what Christmas is all about?