Hymn for St. Nicholas
From every land and every age
We sing of those who bravely wage
The saintly fight with Spirit's sword
In mighty battle for the Lord.
Saint Nicholas the Shepherd true
Who brought his flock to faith anew,
Now by his prayers and faith secure
Draws us, for Jesus to endure.
Now we rejoice on this his day
For in his life, in Christ's sure way,
He saved thy children from their plight,
Defeated sin, put fear to flight.
Now in this church we raise our cry
To God the King of Saints on high.
And pray that, with our Patron, we
May one day God in glory see.
It was a beautiful feast day this year. We found another pair of authentic Dutch wooden shoes at the thrift store for $4 which made my heart sing, I tell you. Then our college daughter assembled all the shoe stuffers for us. Even though we have been busy, between us we were able to make a nice morning.
I commented to a young mom friend though that it's important to look at peaceful, artsy feast day celebrations with a balanced perspective. Do not compare your spring to another's autum. I don't have babies at home and have not for many years. My baby just turned EIGHT years old. Sigh.
There are other reasons besides more available time and being well-rested that account for my ability to pull off creative feast days these days. We are in good health right now. We have spent 30 married years collecting statues and decorations - $4 or less at a time. It took a loooooong time. For many years we were lucky to afford dollar store candy canes in their little tennies. And that was wonderful in its own way. I am not being facetious. Oh, to have those tiny children back for an hour or two.
Our priest has always encouraged us to cultivate fulfilling projects of our own. He advised that the day would come when the children would be grown and we needed to have other satisfying ways to fill our hours. That day has not completely come yet but we are definitely in transition. There are no more hours in the rocker or pacing the floor with colicky infants. There are no more night wakings nor need for constant vigilance with the outlets or the breakables or the household cleaners. However, the trials bigger kids face are also not as easily fixed up. I can't carry around a big twelve year old boy on my hip. I can fill a shoe with the same favorite treats he has enjoyed for many December sixth's and thereby remind him that while the bigger world around him is ever changing and ever presenting him with new challenges, some things are foundational, fixed, unchanging. You can count on them.
It occurred to me that this is a way to embrace those big kids. To borrow a contemporary term - this is my love language. Decorating and celebrating come easily to me. I am not particularly skilled in areas other people find come easily to them. I hope they are embracing their skill set and using it to show love in their own ways.
That, after all, is the real point.
The purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship. If decorating stresses you then it is not strengthening your relationships. It is straining them. Go to Starbucks and have a peppermint latte instead. Go to the library and pick up a Christmas book to share. Pack up that fussy baby and drive around looking at lights til she is asleep again.
Just be you and be that well.