Today is finally a quiet day, and a good one for just rambling on about the weather and a bit of thinking I have been doing. First, we have had the driest fall/winter season ever recorded. It's been a bit of a drought actually. We have had warmer, dryer weather than I can ever remember. We have our yard sprinkler system blown out each year in mid-October. Since then there has been no measurable precipitation for my poor plants and trees. I actually got out our hoses, and spent two days watering our 3/4 of an acre a few weeks ago. The number one killer of plants/trees in a Central Oregon winter is dehydration, especially with no snow for insulation. So, just when I was beginning to think that I would have to drag out the hoses again....a storm finally came. And it pushed out the ridge of high pressure that has been moving all the moisture down south. For two days now, we have had some good rainy, puddle inducing rain. It's 60 degrees (really weird) but WET!
The plants and trees are so very happy, as well as the birds. They are busy taking baths in every puddle they can find. Everything is dripping, dark, moist and just wonderful.
The second thing I have been thinking about is Christmas. I had so many people tell me this year that Christmas is no longer fun, but disappointing. I think they mean as adults, but they were each in different stages of adult life. I think we have all learned to adjust our expectations as the holidays approach. But somehow people are not finding what they are seeking in Christmas. Is Christmas supposed to be fun? I don't think so. At least not in the cultural way we have of thinking of fun. I don't think Mary was having fun giving birth to Jesus in an animal stall. I don't think Joseph was having fun trying to find an adequate warm, dry space for Mary to give birth, after walking and traveling all day. To say nothing of food, or a way to cook food. How has it all come down to everyone craving fun? (Including me) More and more each year I think., I see people all around me who are hurting, alone and lonely, isolated, sick or discouraged. Christmas is the last thing they want to experience and most want it just to be over with so they won't have to deal with more loneliness and pain. This is a area of our culture that we have fostered with all the talk and songs of : I'll be home for Christmas, there's no place like home for the holidays, Grandma's cooking, keep the lights on for me etc. I suspect most of this is idealistic nonsense today. Families are split, and the vast majority of Americans around here have no families to go home to. Older folks are in assisted living facilities, not in their own homes waiting for all the crowd to come home in the swirling snow, with the scents of a huge home-cooked dinner on the crisp air. I too love the idea, but I don't think it has helped us face realities of the limits of our humanity. This is something from a century ago, not today. And the gift buying, giving, and paying for it. I saw somewhere on an old movie where the people said " You don't have to bring me a gift, just your presence is gift enough for us". What a wonderful sentiment, and how I wish it would be true for us. I think a lot of us as adults look for our fun in whatever gift(s) we hope to find under our tree. But it is always disappointing, because we are not children anymore, and we hang so much expectation on it. We need bigger, more exciting, more expensive things each year and it still does not satisfy. We give lip-service to the real meaning of Christmas, but yet we still want to revel in the cultural nonsense...to the destruction of the message we are wanting to share. In reality there is very little of the original 'Christmas' in the way we celebrate. Don't get me wrong, I do think we should celebrate, feast and make merry. We do have a tree, with presents and lots of good food. But yet, many if not most of the people I know, who call themselves followers of Christ, have been left afterwards with a haunting sense of emptiness and disappointment. Partially this may be caused by tiredness and exhaustion, participating in all the events and paraphernalia. Through the years I have heard many talk about this subject, and various possible remedies. But it just seems to be getting bigger, more wide-spread than ever. If we as believing mothers provide a 'wonderful' American cultural Christmas for our children, are we setting them up for disappointment in their adult years? (Along with shallowness and lack of true understanding.)
I tried an alternative this year. My insurance guy and I decided to spend the holidays in serving others. After all didn't Mary serve all of us by her willingness to become the mother of Jesus? And didn't Joseph serve his family that first Christmas night? And most of all didn't Jesus serve us in His most amazing incarnation? This worked out for us in many forms; some out in the community, some in our home and neighborhood, among strangers, family and friends. I am still digesting this, and will continue to process what went right, and what didn't. It was a beginning however, and the disappointment and emptiness were not a part of it or the after effects. I am not seeking to change things for 'next year', to make me or my family happier, or for us to have more fun. That I think is progress.