December 6, 2022 by Alana Mallard

January 19, 2023

Sensing the rituals of the season: Taste, touch, hear, smell, feel amid love, hope, joy, peace

I love the rituals of Christmas – those holy pieces of life’s mysteries and memories and hopes, those things that slow us down so we can think about the big why of the season as well as a lot of little whys of life its ownself.

  • Lighting candles on our Advent wreath with hope, love, peace, joy of Jesus, and seeing those messages in our tabletop arrangement all during Advent, Christmas, the Twelve Days of Christmas

  • Feeling years-old decorations in my hands as I hang them on the tree, transported to times of our first Christmas together, our first Christmas with kids, living on the East Coast and the Texas Gulf, kids growing up, grandkids coming along, going on vacations, kids making decorations, the history of all those nativity and star and angel and bird and women decorations

  • Enjoying the sights of twinkling lights at our house, our neighbors’ houses, our community places

  • Picking meaningful gifts for my North Texas sibs and hoping they get a big surprise with another Capitol ornament, more lip balm from Buc-ee’s, a Christmas box of glazed donuts from Round Rock, and hooting and hollering and hugging as we exchange our gifts out of the trunks of our cars in the  parking lot of Ninfa’s in Waco after our pre- or post-Christmas lunch get-together

  • Making a few gifts, maybe a sweet-smelling batch of  cinnamon-sugar Snickerdoodles with my Mother’s recipe from 1955, maybe a soft green scarf I’ve knitted on purple knitting needles for nearly a year

  • Planning for Christmas dinner, with family recipes, favorite people, and place settings and serving dishes that tell a family story, and then telling our stories around the table

  • Hearing the Luke story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as we read to one another from the little books of our Advent calendar and then hang each little book with its gold thread loop on the Christmas tree

  • Eating tamales together on Christmas Eve, and remembering that year we ate tamales in a hospital waiting room

  • Stacking canned food around the Christmas tree to bundle up for a food pantry in the New Year

  • Chalking above our doorways the numerals of the new year and initials of the three Magi, stretching out the season of mystery and of hope, peace, love, joy for another couple of weeks

“Listen to your life,” says Frederick Buechner in Now and Then.  “See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness:  touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is a grace.”

A Christmas Prayer:  A wish for love, joy, hope, peace throughout the year that is this season’s promise, and to see that promise in the everyday and ordinary of life, both life’s hurts and life’s blessings. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen

Alana Mallard

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