Stop, Breathe, Reflect, and Adore

We’re finally moved into our new house! We still have a bunch of boxes to unpack, but our kitchen and living areas are mostly done. We’ve had friends over for dinner and fires in the fireplace and pictures up on the walls. It’s starting to feel like home. Last night, we finally bought our tree: The only Christmas decoration in the house. (And perhaps the only one for this year.)

Our house earlier this week. So many boxes!
Our house earlier this week. So many boxes!

In some ways, it hasn’t felt like Christmas because of the move. No baking or decorating. No time for little events around town. But… We’ve been reading books with Bea and talking about the nativity. She found some of my old art history books and a few are specifically about the ancient icons of the nativity. It’s been amazing to look through these photographs of icons and mosaics of long ago. It’s reminded me of the true reason for Christmas: Not the decorations or even the traditions, but this time to stop, breathe, reflect, and adore a small baby.

By the time December 25 comes, we’ll be ready. Gifts will have been bought and wrapped and we’ll have a few more decorations up. In the meantime, I’m embracing this unusual holiday and taking the time to stop, sit by the fire, and remember the history and miracle that we are celebrating.

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.


Chaos and Anticipation of Advent

This Advent season has felt chaotic. Not in the holiday bustle sense, but because we’re in the midst of packing. This time next week, we’ll be moved into our new home. It’s not a far move – just 6 miles, but we still have all the coordinating and changing forms and packing to do. I haven’t gotten out any decorations, not even our little refillable Advent calendar. I decided we’ll just celebrate the two weeks before Christmas.

Instead of lights, we have boxes decorating our porch.
Instead of lights, we have boxes decorating our porch.

In some ways it’s a shame: This is the first year Bea recognizes the excitement of Christmas, and I feel bad that we aren’t establishing traditions. On the other hand, she’s content driving through the neighborhood, looking at lights, and decorating Grandma and Grandpa’s tree.

Being it a state of limbo has me reflecting on the real meaning of this Advent season: The waiting, anticipation, and state of chaos. I think of Mary and how she must have felt similar: She couldn’t make any preparations for her new baby, as they were on the road, moving to a temporary home.

And yet, she held what was important, what was dear, to her heart. I love the French word for dear: cher. It’s a greeting, but it also means precious and expensive. I think about the important things of this season: The precious moments together, the books we read with Bea, the outside-the-home traditions we can instill regardless of home decorations. And the most important, most precious reason of all: We are waiting in anticipation for a redemptive baby to enter this world. That is the most important thing I can instill in Bea, and a home full of boxes somehow fits that scene perfectly.

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Our prompt today is Dear.

Noticing the Quirks and Character

We are in the midst of selling our house. This means decluttering, hiding all personal photos, and making it look as though we are as neat, organized, and styled as a Container Store catalog. In the grand scheme of buying and selling, our experience has (so far) been on the easier side, which has been wonderful since Bea has suddenly become attached to the placement of everything!

My shelves are never this empty!

All this decluttering has me thinking about this house. Built in 1952, it’s charming and has a lot of character. It also has a lot of quirks and funky nuances of an older home. Our buyer came by the other day for the inspection and it was interesting getting the report back. Some of the items were things we had known about but had decided not to notice in the years living here. (Vinyl siding? Not amazing but not something we were in a hurry to change.) Some things we had noticed and put on our to-do list, but never gotten around to it. (Redoing the kitchen? Lots of dust and money if it’s not our forever home.) Other things we truly hadn’t noticed and were surprised they were a thing. (I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I would become about a crawl space…) In scrutinizing our house, it makes me wish we had been better about doing the projects slowly over time, rather than cramming them into our last weeks living here.

This noticing has me thinking about my own life. What are areas I know need fixing or work but I just choose not to notice them anymore? What are areas on my to-do list that seem to get lost in the shuffle? It’s inspired me to take more time to notice, not just the improvements, but the charming nuances that make me, me.

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.