For a moment, the shopping mall is magical–the twinkling lights, the soft sweaters, the peppermint cappuccinos.
This is the Christmas of soap operas–of shiny new outfits and fancy gatherings. It is my stepmother’s annual black tie event–carols on the baby grand, champagne in the crystal, salmon on the silver.
There’s a part of me that still craves this Christmas, like an old recipe insisting on its place. But there is another Christmas that woos me too–the quiet Christmas of fresh evergreens and fire places and simple delights.
This Christmas requires homemade gifts and handwritten cards; mornings in the kitchen, afternoons at the work bench, evenings on the sewing machine–joyfully rendering no matter what the hour–while the sweet sound of string music plays in the background.
And then, there is my “real” Christmas–the one fraught with tension between presence and presents, commerce and contentment, decorations and deities.
It’s no wonder that I short-circuit.
What is it that I can distill from these competing visions?
What is it that I truly appreciate about this season of light?
It is this ritual that I love…
preparation |ˌprepəˈrā sh ən| noun ORIGIN late Middle English; via Old French from Latin praeparatio(n-), from praeparare ‘make ready before’
In the northern hemisphere, the winter holidays come at the darkest time of year. Their light helps us enter the winter months while our rituals of preparation make the journey sacred.
It’s hard to align department stores and cocktails parties and frantic hours of wrapping with a sense of the sacred; but I can understand the impulse. We are gathering. We are making sure we have enough. We are afraid we don’t.
It’s time to unplug from that ancient fear, at least for those of us who have enough food and heat and clothing. It is time to notice that our fear not only robs others of what they need; but also robs each of us of the gift of enough.
May Sarton writes, “Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is… an instrument of grace.”
May our rituals of preparation be such an instrument, knowing that we are and we have… enough.
Kelly Salasin, December 2011
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