Radvent 2010: Cookie Crumbs and Wrapping Paper

While you sit there, cozied up to your computer and hopefully clad in something warm, you may find yourself surrounded by a Christmas, shall we say, explosion. My house certainly looks that way this time of year. Small sparkles of glitter seem to cover just about every available surface – the result of hauling home decorative tissue paper plucked from crowded shelves at my neighborhood dollar store. Glitter from holiday greeting cards and age-old Christmas ornaments have also left their mark on my end tables and dining room tablecloth.

Scraps of wrapping paper have been left here and there, and crumbs from a recent cookie exchange have found a home on my kitchen counters. Nearly every available corner and space in my home looks like Christmas. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Of course there have been times these past few weeks where I have found myself consciously taking deep breaths – in and out, in and out – as I force my way through crowded shopping malls, frantically searching for The Perfect Gift. It also happened not long after Thanksgiving, as I pawed through stacks and stacks of boxed holiday greeting cards, determined to find The Perfect Christmas Card this year. The voices of Martha Stewart and other notable do-it-yourselfers echoed throughout my head as I strived to make each and every holiday selection flawless and memorable, even down to my fire-engine-red fingernails and coordinating holiday earrings worn to a Christmas party last week.

In case you haven’t noticed, attempting to be perfect is exhausting work.

But I have really tried this year to force myself to embrace my holiday errands and surroundings in a more relaxed and enjoyable way, knowing that every to-do list I write is part of a bigger picture, a better experience. The tiny tasks are, quite simply, on the periphery of what this time of year really means: reflection, family, friends, and very good food.

The stressful aspects and seemingly endless errands are not what Christmas is all about. They are the proof that we annually need to understand why this time of year is so darn special. At the end of it all, we finally sit down, truly exhale, and savor the friendship and love of those around us. Eventually the overhead lights at Target go dark; the parking lots empty; the streets become desolate. We find ourselves each Christmas season remembering and recalling not the check-out lines or department-store chaos. Not the ongoing “messes” from wrapping gifts and baking cookies.

But love. Pure and easy and memorable. Laughs and giggles. And food. And, of course, the sparkle and the glitter.

On my kitchen wall hangs a small decorative plate that once belonged to my late grandma, Dorothy. (But to us, she was known as Maw, the Polish word for grandmother.) The plate was displayed in her kitchen for as long as I remember; and when she passed away several years ago, I knew I wanted to take ownership of that little treasure. On the plate it reads as follows:

Thank God for dirty dishes,
They have a tale to tell.
While others may go hungry,
We’re eating very well.

The little decoration is a reminder that I refer to often when the STUFF and JUNK and CHAOS of daily life, at times, feels overwhelming. The temporary and sometimes fleeting headaches and stresses don’t really mean life is bad and all for naught. Hardly. The gray hairs atop my head, the crumbs on my kitchen floor, the tiny bits of wrapping paper are physical proof that my life is being lived, each and every day. It is a mantra I have held close and returned to throughout the Christmas season, and one I plan to carry with me into the new year.

Remember to breath and savor, wonder and love. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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2 thoughts on “Radvent 2010: Cookie Crumbs and Wrapping Paper

  1. Thanks for the essay, Wendy. My mom has that plate hanging on her kitchen wall. When we were growing up poor and on welfare, it helped us to remember to be grateful for the little gifts we got at Christmas. Today, that little poem reminds me that I have luxury problems… and extraordinary blessings. I have a wonderful husband, loving family and friends, and a warm and inviting home. What more can a woman ask for?

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