The Battle for Christmas

In Lanier I have a partner in Christmas crime—if overdoing the holiday is delinquent behavior, we’re convicted felons. ‘Tis the season when we meet for Advent Tea and promise each other (once again) we won’t hustle but savor. All month long, we hold each other accountable as we walk the line between the fanciful and the exhausting. What a tussle, this sorting out of the poetic and the practical!

Throughout December, Lanier and I dash off correspondence with resolutions and earnest confessions, like this email from 2010:

I did get a little overwhelmed Monday night—can’t even remember why now. But it was a very near Christmas-spirit-fail and took a great long talk with Philip, including a bunch of strategizing for the following day, in what he’s now calling The Battle for Christmas. ‘Keep your powder dry!’ he told me as he was leaving the next morning. ‘And hold the line!’

 In other words, don’t get lazy about what really matters, or fly aimlessly at every task that seems to present itself.

 Yours in Christmas-love,

Lanier

Our husbands’ families go back a ways—we are happy heirs of a fifty-year alliance between Ivesters and Boggs. I remember standing with my almost empty casserole dish in Lanier’s kitchen one Christmas Eve morning after the traditional brunch with our army of relatives, my lips trembling as I told Lanier I counted her a Laura-Joy.* My friend took my free hand and returned the sentiment, at which I looked at my pan of leftover strata and whispered tearfully: “Do you have any aluminum foil?”

*Have you heard the lilting old carol, “The Seven Joys of Mary”? I cannot, like good Mary, claim a first-hand view of events like the Annunciation or the Resurrection. But especially at Christmastime, I, like Mary, ask God—fully expecting him to answer—to deepen my faith by stretching my imagination: How can all these holy mysteries be?

~ Laura

madonna-in-contemplation

The Seven Joys of Mary

The first good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of one.
To see the blessed Jesus Christ
When he was first her son.
When he was first her son, good lad,
And blessed may he be.
O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.
 
The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of two.
To see her own son Jesus Christ
To make the lame to go.
To make the lame to go, good man,
And blessed may he be.
O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.
 
The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of three.
To see her own son Jesus Christ
To make the blind to see.
To make the blind to see, good man,
And blessed may he be,
O, Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.
 
The next good joy that Mary had
It was the joy of four.
To see her dear son Jesus Christ
To read the Bible o’er.
To read the Bible o’er, good man,
And blessed may he be,
O, Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.
 
The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of five.
To see her own son Jesus Christ
To bring the dead alive.
To bring the dead alive, good man,
And blessed may he be,
O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.
 
The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of six.
To see her own son Jesus Christ
Upon the crucifix.
Upon the crucifix, good man,
And blessed may he be,
O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
To all eternity.
 
The next good joy that Mary had,
It was the joy of seven.
To see her own son Jesus Christ
To wear the crown of Heaven.
To wear the crown of Heaven, good man,
And blessed may he be,
O Father, Son and Holy Ghost
To all eternity.

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