a breath of cold morning air

There were many years when holiday time was marked by specific events and traditions. Cutting down a live tree. Decorations galore. Magic Elves that flew about the house. Advent calendars filled with treats. Baking cookies, making fudge, and singing carols. Lots of lights and even more shopping.

But Christmas comes this year with a soft sadness as my mother continues to decline, no longer engaged in the joys of the season. I’ve let go of the “Mom-chores” of Christmas and held onto the simple pleasures of the season, those that have meaning for me.

We’re making way for new ways of telling time, new ways to mark the season.

“There comes a time when the old things don’t work. The stringing of Christmas lights, the glass of wine, the shopping spree. Dull palliatives for a wound that needs real triage. And this past season feels like I’m in need of some real triage. The decorating isn’t doing it.

But then there are old things that come into new meaning. Advent is here and it is a breath of cold morning air. I’m grateful for the Christian calendar, I’m grateful for the chance to tell time differently. Because when the radio is telling me that “this is the most wonderful time of the year,” Advent says: you don’t have to wrap it up, figuratively in holiday cheer, or literally with another strand of twinkle lights. It declares, with no apologies, all is not well in this veil of tears and it won’t be until the second Advent– the restoration of all things, the healing of all wounds, the wiping of all tears. We look for mercy, we work for gratitude, but we still long for the peace that knows no end.” —Rebecca Parker Payne