Friday, November 30, 2007

Advent Time

070792o_2 Yesterday a good friend made the following comment: "I'm not a fan of this time of year." And she didn't mean the sudden cold weather that descended on our little town last week.

I have more help than most (thanks to Bri, I've never had to hang a string of lights yet), but the to-do list is still intimidating. So much I want to do, so many memories I want to create, and at the same time, I mostly just want to snuggle with a good book next to Brian, with my yellow-blue blanket and a hot cup of tea.

I don't remember who sent me the link to Camp Creek Blog, but thank you. I love her take on holiday resolutions. Seriously funny.    (Five points to anyone who just read that and thought "oxymoron")

Even more, I am inspired by her effort to keep the focus on her sons: "they are so easy to please. they just want to eat ice cream in the living room while watching christmas cartoon specials, me to haul myself outside and play with them in the snow, messy craft projects, freedom to decorate the tree however they want ... giving up on the other stuff makes a better holiday for all of us!"

I'll be rereading that throughout the next four weeks to gain perspective. I get overwhelmed, but I always love this time of year. It was easily the happiest time of year in our household growing up. I suspect both my parents have some Dickensian Christmas memories, and they went above and beyond to make the holiday special for all of us. (I'm the one in braids below, in case it isn't obvous.)


Nostalgia plays a large role in most of my holiday favorites:

Listening to the carols my parents played: Crosby, Sinatra, Cole, Ives...and of course The Muppets with John Denver! Maria gave this CD to Aidan a couple years ago, and it immediately took me back toYoungatheartmoviead 256 Myrtle.

  Watching holiday classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Young at Heart." Okay, maybe you never heard of that last one, but every O'Malley girl has. It may be a cheesy musical soap-opera, but after analyzing it for 30+ years, it takes on a Chekhovian depth. And it is the perfect background while wrapping presents late at night.

I don't care if it's a cliche, "It's a Wonderful Life" is my favorite movie---and was, even in high school, where I tormented loyal friends by quoting this scene of the movie ad nauseum. "...JustItsawonderfullifeboardmeetng_5 remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about...they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community..."

I so enjoy Mary and George's love story, that I am always caught offguard at how dark it gets. And then he finds Zu Zu's petals and the world is made whole again.

These are my Christmas memories: Mom's seven-layer bars, my brother File0483Kevin's punch. New pjs on Christmas Eve. Midnight mass. A vaguely familiar guy in a red suit and fake beard. Restaging the nativity scene under our tree for endless hours. Clementines at the bottom of our stockings. A younger brother or sister (whomever was in 1st grade that year) reciting the second chapter of Luke:

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

I'll try to come back this weekend and add new favorites, because that's the beauty of traditions. You keep some and you create new ones. The Advent wreath at the start of this post is one of our favorites, lit nightly at dinner. Though of course I can't photograph like that, and looking at this photo from 2006's Christmas Eve (note: we're toasting with Kev's punch!), I get the feeling we might need new candles this year.


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