We’re drawing close to the end of our Advent Adventure. I’ve learned a lot along the way and I saw those lessons in action in the last few days. Today, for example, I needed to run a few errands today (we’re spending the next few days hunkered down at home, so I wanted to have all the errand-y stuff taken care of) and that meant venturing into the Sunday-before-Christmas traffic jams and crowds of people who weren’t exactly models of the Christmas spirit. Too many tired adults and exhausted kids in too small an area led to some whining which was responded to quite sharply. I felt bad for everyone involved.
So I got out of that store and started counting some blessings. Five things that have stuck out since the last Advent post included:
- Remembering that being kind includes acting that way towards myself. That can really help some days.
- While running into City Hall on a gray, overcast day to pay the monthly utility bill (weirdly enough, my hometown charges you extra for paying online, so it’s one of the only checks I regularly write), a rough-and-tumble biker type was coming out of the building. He saw me, stopped in his tracks, and said, “A pretty woman on a cloudy day! That’s a sight to see!” Now – I wasn’t feeling pretty. But who was I to contradict the man?
- While gassing up Kitty (that’s my car. What? You don’t name yours?), a young man at the next pump leaned over and said, “I like your car.” Young man of discerning taste, I’d say! (Look, Kitty’s old enough to go to an R-rated movie by herself, but her previous owner [who was her only owner before me] took excellent care of her and she’s a grande automotive dame.)
- My beloved and I continued one of our Christmas traditions and went to Asheville to a pre-Christmas splurge that, in this case, took care of birthday and (probably) anniversary gifts for each other. In addition to chocolate, spices, and our favorite tea shop, we’re readers and Asheville is home to some incredible bookstores. The Captain’s Bookshelf is a gem that features some amazing first editions and signed copies and we went a little wild there – the physical location is closing in the spring (he’ll still sell online) so he’s slashed his inventory prices. For me, the find was a children’s book I’d never heard of by Dino Buzzati called The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily which seems to be one of those rare books that’s written for children but doesn’t treat its young readers with contempt. (Hey! turns out the book has recently been animated! Cool!) At any rate, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor gingerly handling the book and the owner loomed over me, saw what I was reading, and said, “It’s the best book in the store.” Mind you – he has signed copies of Samuel Beckett and Ray Bradbury in there!
- Once today’s errands had been run, I attended my first-ever “Blue Christmas” service. It was quite small – I think people aren’t entirely comfortable with the notion of the holidays being hard – but I must say that I found the service deeply moving. I found a number of the prayers touching, especially one that included the petition “for strength for today, courage for tomorrow, and peace for the past.”
I’ve been fortunate in that doing these posts has made me slow down and “ponder” during this season. I’m better for having done that.
A few more days of waiting. Just a few, so seek the gifts to be found in that space.