Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Countdown – Is It Too Early?

With less than fifty days till Christmas, I am hearing a variety of complaints that it is just too early with the Thanksgiving holiday coming and going in the ‘tween of now and the evergreen decked holiday.  Personally, I love fall and have no wish to hurry though the changing colors and the songs of the leaves scattering through the yard.  At the same time, I love Christmas.  The sounds, and smells, and the beautiful decorations!  So, what about that “rule” of when the decorations should go up?  Is there really any truth to it or is it just a bit of grumpy bunk of some people who just need some extra turkey?

So, with a chuckle and a scent of turkey, evergreen, and a wood fire I think of the concept of the Thanksgiving to Christmas timeline.  Skipping the whole shopping center d├ęcor (which is a matter of marketing, product movement, and economic studies), my own home will soon be the subject of a vigorous pre-Christmas cleaning before decorating.  That’s right folks – the trees (yes, there are quite a few more than one), will be up before the Thanksgiving turkey is thawed. 

That doesn’t mean I will be skipping the holiday of remembering the action of giving thanks.  Rather, it is that the attitude of giving thanks should be a daily one, not dependent upon the calendar.  I challenge those who are taking it upon themselves to be thankful daily during November to make it an opportunity instead of forming a habit of gratitude.  God is good, each day, every moment.  Now, I am a great grumbler, I think I would have fit right in with the Israelites.  So, this is a habit I am also working on.  Instead, let me give thanks for each day, each breath. 

Psalm 92:1-2 “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…”

So while not skipping Thanksgiving, and taking my time to love Christmas, I also am thinking of Mary and preparing for the birth of Christ.  Nine months of preparation… yeah, she definitely started her preparation before Thanksgiving.  (Yes, I know that there was no Thanksgiving holiday in her lifetime).  But, truly think about it – her preparation did start a long time before the month before birth.  What about a nine month celebration?  Or at least a two month celebration?  After all, the stars that the shepherds saw in the sky were planned far before Thanksgiving. 

Regardless of when you start celebrating, let’s just start celebrating.  Giving thanks for the many blessings, the many mercies of our Great God.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Down the Side Streets

Driving through small towns, I think side streets are so interesting.  Main Street gets the focus, the chamber attention, and little groups of community involved spirit.  Beyond that main focal point, there are side streets.  They don’t get the same drive through focus, but have many other little indicators of town flavor.  Potted plants, picket fences, wreathes, and the last of the fall flowers are arranged around mailboxes and cars parked in driveways.  Even though the focal attention is on main street, the town’s story is played out on the side streets and alley ways.

Back in town, I drive past alley ways and side streets to get to work.  In the last few days of misty fall rain, as the leaves have been pasted to streets and miscellaneous objects, the roadways have taken on a special kind of painted appeal.  Driving to work yesterday, I thought about how the side streets of a little town are kind of like the stories in life.  Main Street is the public view, the part that is carefully arranged for the view of the world.  My make-up is on, hair is done, the right shoes, etc…   But, the side streets are where the stories are that make up the interest.  Some of them are full of the scent of sweet memories, the sounds of laughter, and the lights of many candles, wood fires, and Christmas tree lights.  There are a few of the side streets that are darker, tattered and have tissues instead of the bright leaves.  But, I am relentlessly cleaning those out, steadily and slowly installing lamp posts along the way.  There are side streets with music, singing and instruments.  Don’t enter that one unless you are prepared for song to be interrupting your conversation at any moment, and in public.
No matter whether it is Main Street or on the side street, it is good to know that I don’t travel them alone.