Greetings from my fireside on this cozy December day. The tree is up, bright against the dreary weather outside, and I’m intentionally savoring its gentle radiance in company of three of my five cats on the sofa beside me and a sleepy dog curled up in a chair close at hand. It’s been a busy week, and though we decorated the Christmas tree Thursday night, this is really the first time I’ve sat still long enough to enjoy it.
Philip worked from home on Thursday, and at the end of the day he asked me if it was “always like this.”
“Always like what?” I said.
“You didn’t stop moving. All. Day. Long.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said with a shrug. “Perfectly normal.”
The fact is I move around a great deal during the day. I like to joke that I don’t have to go to the gym because I get so much exercise running up and down the stairs, walking to the barn and back, cooking and cleaning and caring for my house and my animals. I do try to carve out contemplative spaces, for without them my soul would starve. And, of course, being a writer means I (ideally) spend an awful lot of time sitting in a chair at my desk. But there’s so much to do around here, even under normal circumstances, that I spend more solid days on my feet than I like to admit.
The first week of Advent is always a bit of a flurry for me–in all my excitement (it’s finally here!) I tend to race to get my decorations out and my holiday baking underway because, hey, we only have a few short weeks here to enjoy all this. If I’m not careful, the happy bustle deteriorates into hustle, or, worse yet, “huffing about.” A recurrent theme of my life is the drive to clear my to-do list so that I can “enjoy” things, an effort that’s just about as futile as the whole “inbox zero” idea. I’ve known myself long enough to spot this tendency as soon as it starts to rear its not-so-pretty head, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to reign myself in when I think of “just one more thing” that needs to be done…
I’ve gotten a little better about managing my first-week-of-Advent tizzy, thanks to Laura’s accountability–and thanks to the fact that I don’t do nearly as much as I used to do (more on that later!). I had a moderate list of tasks for today, but decided before I even got out of bed this morning to strike off everything that didn’t make my heart sing. My heart needed this–this quiet moment, this savoring, this sabbath-rest of the soul. (My heart also needs some tea, methinks, and a couple of the molasses spice cookies my sweet neighbor just sent over with her son, so I’ll address that as soon as I’m finished with this post!)
One of the things I love best about this little Christmas-chronicling project of ours, is that it gives me permission to both experience and observe my holiday. This space, and the kind souls on the other side of the screen, are an accountability in their own right. I love having a place to admit my struggles and celebrate my deepest joys, all at the same time. And it’s really fun to have a chance to share some of the things I’m finding beautiful this season, or inspiring, or tender, or even funny.
So here’s my little lazy Saturday roundup of Links to Loveliness for the First Week in Advent:
~Malcolm Guite is sharing the poems from his Advent book Waiting on the Word over on his blog, along with accompanying artwork by Cambridge artist Linda Richardson. This is a beautifully collaborative project I urge you to follow, even if you already have the book. Seriously, you need to hear these poems read in Malcolm’s wonderful accent! (Last year, he paired the poetry with the photography of my dear friend Lancia Smith, and the result was nothing short of breathtaking. This is a project I look forward to following with Malcolm’s book in hand.)
~Speaking of collaborations, The Rabbit Room is doing something lovely this Advent: teaming up poets and illustrators to create an Advent Calendar of original work. This week’s offering by Jen Yokel and John Hendrix is fantastic.
~The only fashion blog I follow is A Clothes Horse (a good Laura rec!). I love Rebecca’s whimsy and vintage style–and I also love the fact that she’s living in Northern Ireland and her pictures are jaw-droppingly pretty. Her latest post delighted my heart, with its old world Christmas loveliness and romantic vibe. I did have one regret, however: I immediately recognized the fetching frock she wore–the same one that had been languishing in my Unique Vintage shopping cart for the past week or so while I tried to make up my mind. The moment I saw it styled by Rebecca, I knew 1) it was the only Christmas dress in the world for me, and 2) it would be sold out. That’s what happens when A Clothes Horse showcases a garment: the world rushes to purchase it because she’s made it look so perfectly charming. I mean, I can’t blame the world–she has great (and generally affordable) taste. Sure enough, when I clicked through to my shopping cart, there were the dreaded red words: This item is currently unavailable.
Why does unattainability make something even more desirable?
I managed to console myself somewhat with this sweet little number--perhaps easier to hostess in come Christmas! But I fear that red tartan is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.
~People, Look East is absolutely my favorite Advent carol. I heard it for the first time about ten years ago at the cathedral downtown, and ever since the sweetness of its melody and the imagery of its lyrics have been a part of my preparations for Christmas. Here is a lovely recording of it:
~And, finally, I remembered this post I wrote back in 2010, highlighting some favorite Christmas stories. I’m sorry to say that none of these titles are currently available in my bookshop, but maybe you can add a few more to your Christmas reading list. 🙂
We also want to thank everyone for the wonderful response to our giveaway, and for the wealth of Adventide book recommendations in the comments. Don’t forget, the winner will be drawn on Wednesday night, so you still have time to share Golden Hours with a friend. (And word-of-mouth totally counts!)
Advent blessings, friends!