Last year getting ready for Christmas was pretty much one Pinterest win after another. Yes, I know, right?
I had gift ideas I tweaked and made into reality. Recipes? Yes. As we had decided that for gifts from each other in our immediate household they had to be made or purchased from the GW Boutique or both, I was often on Pinterest for inspiration…..or looking for laughs to get me through all that stress of being crafty.
There was one project in particular that I especially enjoyed. It was a clothespin Holy family ornament. I am not sure what the original idea looked like, but I was pleased with the results. I gave Mama one as part of her pre-Christmas goodies. She loved it. “I would love to give these to the ladies in my Circle,” she said, referring to the once a month gathering of ladies from her church. Since they had already met in December, we decided that she could give them out at the July gathering–sort of a Christmas in July if you will. I even had the perfect thing to put with it. “Do you mind making them for me?” she asked. “I’ll probably need 8 or 10.”
“No problem, I enjoy it,” I told her.
This has been in the back of mind and on my heart for a while now. I spoke with one of the ladies from the Circle and found out that they had taken a break for summer but were starting back up this month, today in fact. I knew it was time. I asked if I could come for a few minutes and bring something Mama wanted them all to have. The assurance that I was welcome was genuine and kind.
So last night I sat down with a pile of wooden pieces, my fancy cordless glue gun (I know how to maximize my 40% off Hobby Lobby coupons, y’all), and some paper clips.
Very quickly it all came together. Soon I had all them all ready.
Mama wanted to share these with her dear friends from her Circle with a writing I found, interestingly enough, by watching Ally McBeal. (Don’t judge. I all but had my law degree by watching the whole series all the way through.) One of the characters mentioned it in passing and it stuck with me. Something about Christmas everyday. We live in an amazing age, don’t you think? The morning after I watched that episode, I Googled the line and very quickly found the original work. It is called “Keeping Christmas” by Henry Van Dyke. I was so moved by it, I shared it when I wrote about my Daddy and Granddaddy and the peppermints they shared with all the children when I was growing up. This morning I printed out copies to give with the ornament to remind us all to keep Christmas.
And so it was that I sat with a group of sweet, dear ladies who made me feel nothing but welcome and loved, and they shared how much my Mama had meant to them. We laughed over shared stories, and they loved seeing the pictures of Mama’s two newest grandbabies. It was a sacred time, and I left them with my heart singing and my soul at peace. I had taken care of something that was important to Mama. That I knew it was something she had wanted to do and that I could make it happen–that was precious to me.
My parents were people who tried to live by the ideas presented in this selection. They were human, after all, so they may not have had it down perfect, but they certainly kept trying. That’s why it was such a pleasure to share this “work of art” by Mr. Van Dyke with my new friends. It shouldn’t be just a way of life at Christmas but for all of our other days too.
So tonight my friends, I leave it with you. I shared it last December, but it’s certainly worth being shared many, many times over. May you too find it in your heart to keep Christmas everyday. And may you be fortunate enough, like my Mama was, to find wonderful people around you to join you in this keeping of Christmas.
There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.
Are you willing…
- to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you;
- to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world;
- to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;
- to see that men and women are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;
- to own up to the fact that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life;
- to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness.
Are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing…
- to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children;
- to remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old;
- to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough;
- to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts;
- to try to understand what those who live in the same home with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you;
- to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;
- to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open—
Are you willing to do these things, even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing…
- to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—
- stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—
- and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you can keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.
Six Days of the Week, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1924 and 1952.