Saturday, December 21, 2013

Icy Weekend, Ugly-Beautiful

   We woke before sunrise to the buzz of electronics losing power. An ice storm had moved through Oklahoma while we slept, and eventually the pale dawn revealed a hobby farm thickly encased by glassy, stubborn, frigid ice.

Oklahoma ice storms are beautiful but brutal.

   Our animals are all fine, thankfully. Their extra fat and fur are keeping them all plenty warm, and they also have shelter, high protein food, and forage. The power outage changes life inside the house significantly, though. And on a would-be very busy Saturday filled with holiday plans and tasks, succumbing to frustration would have been easy. But we really didn't. (Not much, at least. wink!)

   Thanks in no small part to Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, which gently nudges us to see the beauty in challenging situations, and also thanks to just a rich dose of Christmas cheer lately, my heart was light enough today to do just that. To see (mostly) magic in this unexpected Saturday Before Christmas. And you know what? Soon that is all I could see. I can't even see the ugly any more.


   I am so thankful for the breathtaking beauty of the gardens right now. These frozen herbs, these bent and frozen zinnias, all of this natural wonder in perfect wintry suspense.

When people say you can freeze your fresh herbs, this is probably not what they mean.

   It means we grew amazing things this year, that this little curve of earth is no longer void. It means that another swell of paradise is coming next year.

   I am so thankful for the freedom and ability to buy nice gifts for so many children we love. We do not take this for granted; nor do we take their presence in our life for granted. Handsome and I are very lucky to be called "Uncle" and "Aunt." We cherish it. Have I ever mentioned to you that we have three million nieces and nephews? Well we do.

The Christmas memories you make are far more valuable than any gift you purchase. Please remember this.

  I am also thankful for the warm, pleasant feelings of nostalgia that washed over me all day, remembering so many little-girl Christmas seasons with our own children. This year, bitterly sad for so many new reasons, is oddly the first year I didn't cry the whole time I shopped for gifts. In fact I caught myself giggling over and over, remembering so many fun things Handsome and I have done together over the years, things we did to surprise the girls and give them the best Christmas we could, year after year. Above all, we made memories. Now more than ever, this is clearly the most important part of all the work parents do at the holidays.

   I am so thankful for a messy living room, strewn with wrapping paper, Sonic ketchup packets, pine branches and other kindling, clean laundry, and unread books. I am thankful for the fluffy little dog my Father-in-Law has brought to live with us, because she brings so much new affection to our home. I am thankful for the paper whites blooming, for the pillows and soft blankets that beg us to cuddle, and for the candy canes, popcorn, and hot chocolate we can have for dinner. Because we're grown ups and allowed to do that if we want.

The consolation of a deep, cold winter is a glowing living room.

   All of this means that we have a full life bursting with people we love and activities that truly nourish us. It means we have a home, not a perfect house. It means we work hard enough to relax on the weekend.

   I am so thankful for this small, colorful, happy little kitchen. I am thankful for this wall hook crafted my loving husband, loaded with slightly soiled aprons. I am thankful for that honey bee photo on canvas, a gift from our friend M when she and Hubs went to Alaska recently.

   This room reminds me that we always have plenty to eat. We often are surrounded here by people we love and who love us, and that I have been cooking lately with my youngest daughter, with friends, and by myself, feeding very special people, creating meals and desserts that nourish our bodies and make us priceless memories. 

   Difficulties abound, no doubt about it. But so does sweetness. So do opportunities to make really special, one-of-a-kind memories. Love reigns supreme if we allow it to.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." ~Philippians 4:8

   I hope this finds you making the most of whatever circumstances are thrown your way. I hope your Christmas wish list is longer on "Fun to Have" and "Love to Show" than it is on "Things to Buy." And I hope that, despite the romance of a power outage, you have all the electricity you need!

"He who has not Christmas in his heart
 will never find it under a tree."
 ~Roy L. Smith


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