Christmas started on Friday evening. We gathered with Justin's family, on his mom's side, and enjoyed an evening of food, conversation, dirty Santa and catching up with people we had not seen in a year. It's a tradition they've had since before Justin was born, and usually occurs on Christmas Eve. With Christmas on a Sunday this year, his grandmother wanted to make it to church Sunday morning.
One of the traditions I had growing up was attending church on Christmas Eve. The Christmas story was told, and the night would end with singing "Silent Night" by candelight.
Our church held service on Christmas Eve. There wasn't candle light, but there was singing and the sharing of the Christmas story. It was a night that reminded me, again, of what Christmas means to me. It was a night that we walked away from and felt cautiously optimistic.
Many people, myself included, make resolutions the very first day of the new year. But this year, Christmas marked the start of the new year for me. Christmas spoke to me. It reminded me that life starts over every year. It reminded me that some years will be more difficult than others, but there is always a new year coming. And that new year always comes with the promise of hope and love.
I'm choosing hope now. As scary as it is to be optimistic about the upcoming year, I feel that things will change. So much has already been set in motion.
And so, after the Christmas Eve service, I felt lighter than I had in weeks. Christmas itself might not have gone exactly the way I wanted it to - we didn't make it to a Christmas movie - but it was a beautiful and wonderful weekend.
We were so blessed this year by our friends and family. Not just in the way of gifts but in the way of thoughtfulness and in the way of hope and in the way of love.
Many of the gifts we received were gifts we had been wanting and needing, and they're gifts that will continue to give. A 17-piece stainless steel cook set. A beautiful mustard yellow stock pot. A new knife set. An indoor grill/griddle combo. Cookbooks. The chance to dress my kitchen and open my front door to guests.
So much has recently been set in motion. The possibility of extra income. Reconnecting with old friends. The beginnings of a new novel. The decision to pursue others and my dreams. Letting go of many things and opening myself to whatever awaits me this upcoming year. Trusting that God truly does know what is best and reminding myself that I can lean into His plans without fear.
That's what Christmas has been. The day itself as well as the days that proceeded it and the days that came after.
I head back into the real world of work tomorrow. And while I would much rather remain in this land of no work and Christmas, I know that when I head back I will do so with renewed energy, rediscovered hope, and a clean house.
(title from "you've got growin' up to do" by joshua radin)