The other day a friend asked what my sweetie and I are doing for Christmas, what are our traditions, how do we celebrate the birth of our Lord? For the first fifteen years of our marriage we were involved in Church ministry so the people we served were the priority. We spent Christmas Eve (always) and sometimes Christmas Day doing something outside of our home. My sweetie continued in ministry for a couple years after I left to be available for his mom and pursue quilting. Along the way there were changes and we had Christmas day to spend with his mom and together as a family when she moved in with us. We had a tree and special food that we cooked together. We were so emotionally raw the Christmas after she passed that we did nothing.
My sweeties job has changed, and we no longer have cats who love to climb trees so our plan was to go get a tree for the first time in years. Our work schedules have conflicted in a huge way so, while we wanted a tree very much, it just hasn’t happened. Since we don’t have kids my sweetie is helping cover for some of his staff who do, so his schedule will be full and we won’t see each other much. Christmas day we’ll have a special meal sometime after he gets home from work. I’ll get some stuff done for teaching at a quilt show in January, I’ll do some writing and make dinner.
Through it all there has been our Faith. During Advent we have special readings just before dinner each evening that follow the Liturgical Cycle. Sometimes we actually take the time to light the candles on the wreath, sometimes not. With our late evenings it’s been not. Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting on God, waiting for each other. Waiting in expectation is a good thing. Thinking about waiting, thinking about our career together and our careers now I’m seeing that saying, “Yes, Lord” so many years ago was such a beautiful thing with and for each other. We can be flexible and, while I’ll miss him during the day tomorrow, I’m not upset that he won’t be home for the day. We can be with others and serve or we can be with each other and be quiet.
On more than one occasion I’ve mentioned that I love listening to Busted Halo on Thursday nights. It’s my favorite night of the week as it’s Faith in Culture night, finding faith in our day to day experience through music, television, movies. The other day faith presented itself, whether intended or not, in Seth Godin’s blog. Not being a huge fan of Seinfeld I wasn’t certain exactly what Festivus was and reading that it’s about airing of grievances actually makes sense. Sometimes airing grievances is a good thing, when the airing is done with respect and care. Here’s the problem…saving up grievances to air means, as Seth points out, that we must then hold on to them, live in them. The grievances then inform and form much of who we are, shaping our daily experience, how our mind thinks and then how we respond to people. Going further it informs much of how we see ourselves, that negative view overtakes how we view who we are and what we do.
So when I posted Seth’s blog to my fb wall Regena commented, “Airing our good things….I like it. How to do it so I don’t sound all braggy. …that will need some finesse-ing.” I like the question but I think it begs an answer that will seem a bit twisted.
First we recognize that God created us in His image and likeness. That’s Awe Inspiring. Think about that for a moment. We are Created to be Good, Holy, Love and Loved. We are Created to be creative in the way that God gifts us, for me lately it’s quilting and writing…there’s always been a bit of an arty presence. That’s my gift. It’s the talent that I must work on growing. There are places where I lack and oh do I however, here’s a different view. Here’s a place where others complement my skills. Learning to appreciate their skills, their talents, the gift of who the other person is without giving into a warped desire to have their skill as part of my own, without giving into jealousy and fear.
And therein is the essential problem: jealousy and fear and acting on those to in someway diminish our gifts and the gifts of others. Jealousy, fear, comparison give us a platform for taking on an air of superiority, “lording” our gifts over others. This doesn’t make us feel better about ourselves, it doesn’t help us to recognize the gift we have or the complementarity of the gifts of others.
Let’s turn jealousy and fear into appreciation and an openness to receiving the gift of the other person. Let’s appreciate our own gifts.
I can quilt. I’m good at it. I got to be good at it by working and working and working and working at it. I work hard at developing this talent/gift/skill, this gift from God. My friend Regena, The Distracted Domestic, is multi-talented she cooks, sews, embroiders, quilts. She took one of my post-hysterectomy drawings and made this for me. I am reminded of her generosity every time I walk through the door into my sewing room.
This Christmas I am grateful, thankful for the gift of quilting in my life
for the gift of all the amazing people that have come into my life as a result
Regena’s question about not being braggy is best answered by being grateful and saying thank you when we’re complimented, by stating things matter-of-factly. By shifting our focus from we’re bragging to an acceptance of this gift from God.
Merry Christmas dear friends!