We've had what has felt like a busier and more stressed advent season this year for a number of reasons. We've also been blessed with many moments of grace and joy, but for some reason I have (in particular) been feeling overwhelmed with too much "to do" and too much "to think about" and having a harder time than usual letting go and finding places to sink deep down into stillness and expectancy.
For the past couple of years I've posted a list of what we're thankful for, usually right around thanksgiving. This year I didn't, and despite the fact that thanksgiving is far behind us and Christmas is now literally just around the corner, I keep feeling a nagging need to come here and count my blessings anyway. Any time of year can be a time to give thanks, and I seem to be in more need than usual of taking a deep breath and doing just that!
I missed our annual tradition of writing blessings/what we're grateful for on leaves for the thanksgiving tree. We didn't do it at home, and despite the fact that it was just the three of us and my parents in Virginia on thanksgiving day, we just forgot to do it there. I definitely want to reinstate this tradition next year, wherever we find ourselves.
While walking earlier today to run some errands, I asked the sweet girl to think of three blessings she was thankful for. She decided on these three: "that we have a Christmas tree; that I have crayons I can color with; and you, Mommy." I liked the simplicity of that list, and of course was rather partial to that last one!
My own "list" today included how well S. is doing in school and how much she enjoys learning; the kindness and sweetness of her daddy; and all the blessings of the autumn season this year. That included yet another trip to Virginia to spend time with my parents and D's aunt, mom and mom's husband. I'm especially grateful for my parents' continued good health (they're both 76 now) and for the wonderful afternoon we got to spend with them at Maymont Park, a beautiful park we used to go to when I was a child. I hadn't been there in years and loved how much it hadn't changed: the barn with animals for petting, the long trail through ivy-covered tree-lined paths filled with stops to ooh and ahh over various North American animals like gray foxes, black bears, and even hawks and eagles in the aviary.
Better perhaps even that our time at the park was the precious time spent by the sweet girl in the back yard with my Dad, feeding the birds and squirrels.
For a city-dwelling child who loves trees and animals, this was sheerly heaven. I watched her dancing around sprinkling corn on the ground and putting seeds in the feeders and realized how dearly she would enjoy doing this every day. I've had to work since then on my contentment levels and not feeling a renewed sense of resignation that we're called to where we're called. There are blessings here too. May I do a better job of remembering that and "counting them" each day!