It’s NOT Christmastime yet!

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Thanks to those merchants who begin their Christmas marketing before Hallowe’en is over, it’s easy to be duped into thinking we need to keep in step with them and start our own preparations earlier every year.

I love everything about Christmas — celebrations of holiday and holiness along with the preparations, family festivities and traditions. What I don’t like is pushing aside our Canadian Thanksgiving, Remembrance/Veterans Day, and American Thanksgiving in a rush to dig out the creche, Christmas ornaments and coloured lights.

The one exception in our household is when we bake our Christmas fruitcakes six weeks before Christmas. The whole family gets involved, and for that one day, carols provides a backdrop to the measuring, stirring and wonderful baking aroma. But just for that one day.

(Oh, all right, I suppose I also have to admit we bought a poinsettia at the church’s Christmas Bazaar this past weekend. It’s a HUGE event and is always held the third weekend of November. Any later and it would conflict with Advent.)

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A friend reminds me every year that Christmas Eve is soon enough to put up her tree and bring out the few treasured ornaments that will remain in place through the twelve days of Christmas and come down after Epiphany. I don’t argue with her because her tradition is reasonable.

Do I wait until Christmas Eve? Certainly not! The older I get, the faster time passes, so I find it necessary to embrace all of Advent and the twelve days of Christmas to ensure I have adequate time to prepare myself and absorb all the special joys of the holy season.

However, I wait until after my American friends have celebrated their Thanksgiving Day. When the following Sunday ushers in Advent, then I’m set to move ahead into Christmas preparations. Then and only then! Our outside lights will go on to remind neighbours that we’re looking forward to celebrating the birth of Him who is the Light of the world. The miniature porcelain village will be unpacked along with the creche, and by the next weekend we’ll be hunting for the perfect tree.

It’s important to respect each special occasion, and I think it’s difficult to focus properly on their history and true significance if we are rushing past in anticipation of what will follow. So no, it’s not Christmastime quite yet.

This week I join in wishing my American friends a very blessed Thanksgiving.

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Giving thanks always for all things
unto God and the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

[Ephesians 5:20]

~  ~  ~

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Stop, Look and Be Awestruck

Feed Me

“WOW!”

How often do you stop and really look around? I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to walk and think. After all, wandering provides a great opportunity to mull through plot problems and life dilemmas. I also like to keep an eye on where I’m placing my feet since I have the unfortunate habit of finding roots, dips and hollows that trip me up and, more times than not, cause a sprained ankle.

Granted, keeping an eye on the ground has resulted in finding objects that I might otherwise have missed — like coins, a frog in the grass, and the dog’s lost ball — but when I’m not looking up with the intent to actually see, I miss a lot, too.

I miss appreciating the beauty of an arid landscape… (Consider clicking on photos to enlarge.)

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(Near Cache Creek, BC)

and seeing the fire-glazed colour of the sun.

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(Smoky afternoon sun, Cranbrook, BC)

I miss exquisite fall reflections…

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(Oie Lake in BC’s Cariboo country)

and brief encounters with local wildlife.

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(Black Bear – Oie Lake, BC)

Sometimes I simply miss the potential of endless horizons…

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(View from the Creston-Salmo Pass, southeast BC)

Too often we don’t look at all, or we look but don’t see. I believe as writers we have to be keenly aware of our surroundings. It’s through observation that we learn to experience the emotions we want to convey on the page. Two closely related emotions are awe and gratitude.

When did you last experience that combination? In what situations might you have allowed one of your characters to experience it?

~

For the LORD Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.

[Psalm 47:2]

~  ~  ~

Transitioning from Thanksgiving into Advent

 

 

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Sunlight filtered through the trees last weekend as we neared the spot where we would see the eagles. It was more of a stroll than a hike to get there, as the trail meandered through the woods toward the Chehalis River.

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Later we crossed over a stream via a log bridge and wandered back along an easier path that paralleled a golf course. It was a gorgeous day — a day that filled us with thankfulness for the beauty of our surroundings.

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But thankfulness is more than expressing appreciation for what we have. It involves a response to Him who is the giver of all we have and are.

This weekend many will be transferring attention from Thanksgiving to Advent. We begin the annual time of preparation, readying ourselves to receive again the Gift beyond imagining… God among us, the Creator and Saviour of the world. But truly, there shouldn’t be a transitioning from one celebration to another. We need to carry our thanksgiving on through and into Christmas.

What traditions are a part of your Thanksgiving-into-Christmas preparations?

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“Thanks be to God for his indescribable Gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15

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Thankful for the Ordinary Everyday

Today is our Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s strange to me that we set aside one specific day of the year to show thankfulness for the things that bless us every moment of every day… the holy moments that enrich our lives. As Ann Voskamp says in her post today, “The everyday is the most important day of the year…. The way we live our everydays is the way we live our lives.”

And, to steal the title of one of my husband’s sermons, how we live our lives should reflect a perpetual Attitude of Gratitude.

I wish you many blessings on this Thanksgiving Day, and leave you with one question:

How do you express thanksgiving in the ordinary everydayness of your life?

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.
[Psalm 105:1 – NIV]

Let’s See… Thanksgiving, Christmas or Both?

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my American friends!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to stop and consider the many blessings we enjoy. No matter our economic status, our health or family situation, I suspect most of us in Canada found at least one good thing on October 11th for which we were thankful. But I must say I envy my American friends for the timing of their Thanksgiving Day.

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Oh, I know the origins of the event… appreciation for a bountiful harvest, arrival of the English at the Virginia colony, celebration by the pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation.

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The current American celebration, however, give or take a few days, also coincides with the arrival of Advent, when we begin looking ahead to Christmas and the celebration of the most wondrous occurrence of all time. The two aren’t really linked at all, and yet frequently Christmas decorations come out for this day and it becomes the official beginning of the Christmas season.

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I’m a little like my new granddaughter-in-law who, before mid-November proclaimed, “It’s official; I’m obsessed with Christmas,” and put up her tree. I find Christmas slips away faster every year so I want to start celebrating it earlier and earlier!

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May I be allowed to celebrate both Thanksgivings and thus move right on into Christmas things now, too? Pleeease?

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Be thankful you can raise a little hell

Here in Canada this is Thanksgiving Day and tomorrow is Election Day. At first glance that seems like an unfortunate combination. While the global financial world has been drowning, Canada’s stock market flounders in sympathetic dives and bellyflops, scaring home owners, investors and pensioners alike with its thrashing. Our present political situation doesn’t appear to be in a state for which thankfulness is a rational response.

 

But the very fact that we have the right and freedom to vote for the party that we believe can best address the situation is something for which we should be supremely thankful.

 

On her blog yesterday, Shari Green (DD 🙂 ) urged everyone to vote. She posted the Rick Mercer parody of Trooper’s hit song “Raise a Little Hell”.

 

“If you don’t like what you’ve got, why don’t you change it?”

“If your world is all screwed up, rearrange it!”

“If you don’t like what you see, why don’t you fight it?”

“If you know there’s something wrong, why don’t you right it?”

“Raise a little hell!”

 

I think Trooper is onto something!

I’m going to wear my Trooper T-shirt to the polls tomorrow and vote! Am I thankful that I can? You bet!