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Another day in the country

© Another Day in the Country

It’s that time of year for making Christmas lists — whether it’s things we want or things we have to do. When I discovered a couple of months ago that my children wouldn’t be here for Christmas, my sister said, “So, what would you like to have for Christmas? Are there things that just make your ‘inner child’ smile, things that say ‘It’s Christmas’ to you — other than family gathering around, of course? Let’s make a list.”

At first, I felt self-conscious about this list-making business — it was a commitment of sorts — about some pretty simple things. “I love being surprised,” I finally said to Jess, “so that’s the first thing on my list.”

“Put down singing carols,” Jess interjected, “Sometime during December we’ve got to sing carols.” We grew up singing carols. Sometimes we sing in the car while we’re enjoying Christmas lights.

“Let’s make cookies, again,” I suggested. “It wouldn’t seem like Christmas if we weren’t baking.” My sister agreed so long as we didn’t try to make every cookie in the book.

Once we got past the first few things on the list, ideas were flying: Laughter had to go on the list. Shopping was added — it’s actually fun when it’s not a duty, in a crowd, or spending money you really don’t have. Give something unusual came next with nothing specific about whom to give this gift to. I’d just watch for the opportunity to crop up. (I gave my first Christmas gift Dec. 2 — it was so much fun — I didn’t even have to buy it … a story in itself.)

In all my years of celebrating Christmas, I’ve made quite a few Advent calendars for my children; but I’ve never made one for myself. This year’s Christmas list called for a homemade holiday calendar of my own because one of the most important things on my Christmas wish list was No. 7: Anticipation. I love looking forward to things — it just doubles and triples the joy of any event.

The last week of November we started making Christmas plans so that we could anticipate the fun. “How about one a week?” I suggested. Actually it has turned out to be more. Things just keep popping up that were very affordable and matched my wish list. We bought tickets for the Library Home Tour in Marion. (It was wonderful!) We went to see “White Christmas” at the Community Theater in Salina.

Because “Singing Carols” was on my list, I noticed the “Jurltide” at Bethany College advertised in the paper. “There’s audience participation,” I said to my sister, “Let’s do it!” We’ve made plans to see “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” in Abilene. We called some friends in Lindsborg and said, “Set the table on the 14th, and we’ll bring dinner.”

I drew pictures on my calendar. Jess decided to use her camera (that she got for Christmas a couple of years ago) and take a picture every day to represent the gift (from the list) which she’d received. It’s opened up a whole new world to her as she plans her shots. Her holiday calendar is so beautiful and so much fun that she’s thinking about continuing it on into 2012.

For the first time in years, I found myself anticipating December! There was something so delicious about making that list. When you write something down, you commit to watching for it to happen! I’m sure these little joys occurred in previous years, but this year they are underlined, written in capital letters with red and green ink! Nothing is taken for granted or ignored while I’m hankering for some unknown something or other to happen. I’ve made my list. I know what I want to receive this Christmas! (Massage, must not forget to write that down.)

Snow was added to the list along with unexpected calls from friends, go to a movie, dress up fancy, send cards, and read stories. There’s no haunting expectations, no have-to’s, no feeling sad because kids won’t be gathering round the tree on Christmas Eve (They’ll actually be here for New Years so we’re opening stockings on New Year’s Eve). We’re busy watching for things to receive that are on the list. Would you believe that things started happening before we even got to Dec. 1?

Yep, it’s another day in the country, and I made my list and I’m checking it twice!

Last modified Dec. 7, 2011

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