on a winter's eve

Just a few more favorite photos from the last couple of days. I am really loving all this wintriness we're enjoying right now, even though right now it's about -6°F and falling. I was thinking today how much I love the crunchy sound of walking, or even driving, on really cold snow. 

Elisabeth has returned to swim team as usual this week, which in some ways really marks our return to "normal" after the holiday, although we'll leave our decorations up for another week or so and continue to listen to Christmas music and probably bake cookies one more time.

I think I'll leave that straw heart up indefinitely when the Christmas decorations get put away. About a month ago, I sort of envisioned it hanging in that spot by the window, and I thought it might be nice there year-round, or at least for a few more months. 

I know I almost never mention movies or shows here, but it's nice sometimes to have something to watch while doing handwork, and with the cold we're having, I realize I need to get some sweaters churned out quickly for several of my crew, and we really need that granny square blanket that I haven't picked up in months. So, I'm looking forward to binge-watching Friends in January when it comes onto Netflix, and my husband and I have been enjoying watching Endeavour lately. I love catching the many Shakespeare references! And of course, here in the US, Downton Abbey returns this coming Sunday. Do you have any favorite things to watch while doing handwork?

in which i realize i am george bailey

It's a Wonderful Life has been my favorite Christmas movie since I was nine years old. Always sensitive, always concerned with suffering and justice, this film has always revealed something very true to me. George Bailey doesn't "do his duty" and put others before himself with some giddy sense that it's fun to do it. He does it because it's the right thing, even though it's hard. He never wanted to run his father's business or stay in his small town or protect his alcoholic uncle or see his wife and children live in an old dumpy house. But he did those things anyway, because he loved people—his family, his community—and he couldn't walk away from them even when it would have been convenient to do so. And of course, in the end, the people in his life rallied around him when he needed them.

Now, I'm not saying that I've sacrificed myself in any way near to what George Bailey did. But I will say that my community has rallied around me in the most blessed of ways this month. There was a day a couple of weeks ago when we received in the mail several gift cards from friends far and near, including a very generous anonymous one. With tears, I sat down and looked at the abundance with which we have been showered by so many people, and I looked at my husband and just said, "I'm George Bailey—we're George Bailey."  

We have been so richly blessed, so cared for by so many people. We couldn't have provided a magical Christmas for our children this year, and others stepped forward and did it for us. My gratitude is almost inexpressible. So, if you are one of the many, many people who have helped us this year, thank you so very, very much. And if you are one of the many more people who have been cheering for us and holding us in prayer, thank you as well.

This Advent was amazingly blessed. We were able to keep it in the most prayerful and anticipatory way yet, and I was really excited about that. And Christmas is a blessing that just keeps giving. 

A few people have asked me about how we celebrated this year. It was pretty simple and quiet and I loved it. We attended Christmas Eve mass in the evening, forgoing the loud, hot, overstimulating "children's mass" and pageant, and were so glad we did. Quiet carols and candlelight were a more peaceful way to end the season of Advent that we'd just observed. There were a few handmade gifts for some of our extended family members. We hosted Christmas Day brunch for my family at our house, which was really wonderful and simple. It was only the second time in 15 years that we haven't dashed out on Christmas Day, and it made for a lovely change of pace, one I wouldn't mind repeating! I like to host things even though it's a lot of work and I'm rather high strung. Snow on Christmas Day and lots of board games and books in the days since have rounded out what has been one of my favorite Christmases ever. I have never felt so blessed. 

Christ is born!