So another November is in the books, another month of focusing on what I’m grateful for.
In 31 days, it will be 2016, and so many people will take the hope and opportunity of a new year to make a new beginning. But I need more than just January 1.
I need April, and my church’s General Conference to recalibrate. I need June and the promise of 10 weeks of summer to set goals. I’d be lost without August and the start of a new school year to really try my hand at new beginnings. October brings another church conference, following by November and a month of gratitude.
I give myself multiple opportunities every year to start fresh, to restart, and I’m grateful for those multiple opportunities.
Today is the first day of Advent. Last year, I observed Advent for the first time ever, and at times lamented that it isn’t part of how my church celebrates Christmas.
This year, I’m actually a little glad that it isn’t tied to LDS culture and tradition, because it isn’t “one more thing” I have to do–it’s something I want to do, something that I can make entirely mine.
Last year, I observed Advent with the help of a book that lined up parts of Handel’s Messiah with each day. This year, I am using this book, which draws on writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’ve also already arranged to attend a Christmas Eve service with a friend.
I’ll write once or twice a week here about my advent observations. In case you might want to figure out your own approach to observing advent, I’ve collected some links:
Rachel Held Evans (this post is what got me started last year).
Sarah Bessey (I linked her first Advent blog here–I’ll be following her others this season).
By Common Consent–an LDS-based blog–has some pieces about advent. This is from last year as well.
I’m ready for another Christmas season–hoping again this year that the things I’ve grown to detest about this time of year will, much like the scales from Paul’s eyes, fall off and allow me to really see Jesus more clearly.
Last night when I looked at the to-do list I wrote out Tuesday night and saw how many things I didn’t get around to, I had a moment of panic. Especially because I knew I wouldn’t be home much today. And now as I’m watching the 2nd half of the BYU-Belmont basketball game, I’m really quite grateful for my busy Saturday.
8-10 a.m.: made a casserole for dinners this week and rolls for lunches. Grateful for an able body to be on my feet for that long, for a great kitchen, and for plenty of ingredients to make a variety of food.
11:30 a.m.: taught my niece a piano lesson. Grateful for her musical talent and for the fun of music in general.
1-3 p.m.: Book signing at a local indie bookstore. Grateful for a publisher who thought my book was worthwhile, for friends who unwittingly tag-teamed the entire two hours I was there so I was not without company for long, grateful for a lovely bouquet of flowers and the thoughtful box of Candy Cane Joe Joes some friends brought me, and grateful for writing in general.
4-9 p.m.: Star Wars marathon for journalism kids. Last night we watched Episode 4; tonight we watched Episodes 5 and 2. Grateful for fun students, for DVDs, and I’m grateful that George Lucas didn’t write the screenplays to ALL of the Star Wars films…
I worked a little here and there during the movies, chipping away at the looming to-do list. After the game is over, I’ll pick up a book I’ve been reading over break (and hope to finish it), and go to bed content with a Thanksgiving break that actually felt like a break. Truly grateful for that.
Today I am grateful for sleep.
As I get older…and older…and older…I have a lower tolerance for staying up late and sleeping in late. Even on weekends and holidays, I am usually in bed no later than 11 p.m., and awake before 8 a.m.
The part of me that still feels 20 is bothered by this; I want to be able to sleep until 9 or 10 a.m.! But still, I’m grateful for the sleep I get, in between flannel sheets on cold nights, in a giant bed, and at least for tomorrow, with no set alarm.
I am really quite grateful for my living space. It is comfortable, sunny, and warm.
My couch, though old and faded, was the perfect resting place last week when I was sick. My kitchen has enough counter space to cool dozens of cookies and cakes. My bedroom has a giant east-facing window that lets in plenty of sunshine throughout the day. I have more than enough room for a Christmas tree, a piano, bookshelves, and my nana’s kitchen table.
I try to catch myself in moments I take for granted how much I love my home, and remember how lucky I am to live where I do.