Maybe I'll start in September next year

It's the night before the night before Christmas. There are many, many cookies here that were not in the world this morning. I made 5 kinds of cookies today. They all seem to be very tasty. I also made 2 kinds of fudge. And started the appetizers for tomorrow's dinner.

This year, my mom and my sister and I have agreed that we will KEEP IT SIMPLE. In a strange way, this means that instead of shopping online for stuff, I am baking cookies for everyone I know. Simple means the house smells of vanilla and cinnamon and it will take an hour to get the kitchen clean enough to start again.

Simple is not as simple as it was in the days when my kids were little. In those days, simple meant hand made gifts for family, hand made, kid-crafted gifts for dozens of teachers and helpers, running a Sunday School pageant and, frequently, reading at one of the Advent services at church. Simple was miraculous. Or - at least- it now seems miraculous that I found a way to organize myself to have a Christmas that was - simply - meaningful and lovely.

The way I remember it (it's a bit hazy, to tell the whole of the truth), I started Christmas much earlier in the days when it was simple. I lived toward Christmas from the time school started (sometimes from the days I collected shells on the beach so I could make them into Christmas candles). When the kids were the centre of my days, my days moved naturally toward the celebration of birth and beauty.

My kids are still central in my life, but my days revolve differently now. Without a baby in my own arms, the baby in the manger seems much farther away. It's harder to imagine Christmas in September than it was when I knew that the countdown was coming and I would have to portion out the excitement so that it did not grow faster than the calendar was moving. In those days, getting ready for Christmas meant having a little bit of Christmas every day for months in advance.

It's harder. But I know how to unwind the skein of memory and follow its path backwards. Maybe next year - maybe the year after that. I will grow younger and start earlier. I will start when school starts and live Christmas a little bit every day.


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