I sing of Christmas and comforts.

Correggio

If you have not already put away every thing pertaining to Christmas, perhaps you are like me in some way… I have various reasons, year by year, to leave up the lights around my kitchen window, or to be slow about putting away my basket of music CD’s about the Christ Child and the glorious message of God With Us. I just mailed the last of my Christmas cards this week.

My Orthodox parish celebrates the Nativity of Christ on the “new calendar,” December 25th, like most of you, but many of my friends only began on January 7th their feast both liturgical and dietary, and this year in particular I am grateful to continue my heart’s celebrations with them.

These monks in Ukraine gave a concert some years ago, and a full 15 minutes of their carol-singing is in this video, which I’ve been listening to over and over. Their joy infuses me, and I weep for being comforted. “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people…”

Comfort ye! Comfort ye, my people! Saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,
and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplish’d,
that her iniquity is pardon’d.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill made low,
the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.
     -Isaiah 40

I don’t need to know a word of their language to hear the message: Christ is born!!!

If this is a little too much exultation for you at this time, because you celebrated plenty already, it might be you could benefit from reading Auntie Leila‘s encouraging words about how to wind down from the overstimulation of the Christmas season. I was greatly helped by her simple and homey ideas, with easy “action points,” in this article, “An Epiphany Thought.” She writes:

“We didn’t used to call it overstimulation back when I was young, but when I recently saw something about this idea for moms, I reflected on how, as a young woman definitely fighting through to a quieter situation, I developed some strategies to address just that issue, of needing to be calmer so that I could think!”

In many ways it was easier to keep a quiet sort of focus and household when I was a young mother maintaining a certain atmosphere in the home, for the sake of a large family who lived together. Now that I have only myself to keep in order, I don’t do such a good job, and I am grateful for reminders like this, of how to “mother” myself.

One factor in the overall mood of a home certainly is the weather outside, and many of you have asked me how we are faring in my area of northern California, with the storms, high winds and flooding. They haven’t been a big problem for anyone I have talked to, and though I’ve been out and about the last few days, I haven’t come across any flooded areas. We have had these wet winters before, and to me this one doesn’t seem unusual. But I am just one person.

In spite of unfortunate damages, I can’t help being very glad that we are getting so wet. It’s a perpetually arid land, and I’m afraid people will always be fighting water wars. When extra water is falling from the skies, it feels like showers of blessing from Heaven, and cause for at least a temporary cease-fire in those battles. I will go on ignoring the weather news and will try to pay closer attention to what’s happening in my garden — and in my heart and home.

8 thoughts on “I sing of Christmas and comforts.

  1. “I will go on ignoring the weather news and will try to pay closer attention to what’s happening in my garden — and in my heart and home.” I agree with you whole-heartedly, except that I would insert ‘political’ instead of ‘weather’ for where I live.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad to hear you are not getting flooded out but instead are experiencing a much needed saturation! Your garden will flourish! I keep thinking how beautiful the falls at Yosemite will be after a wet winter, but that I don’t mean to sound callous to those who are suffering.

    We usually leave our Christmas lights, decorations, and tree up through Epiphany. The kids receive three gifts from the magi, but this year, with fewer kids at home and the funny shift of the feast from the weekday to the Sunday following, the celebration felt a bit thin. I’ve packed up most of our decor now, but I left out the nativities. We have 6 or 7 sets, plus some little scenes without movable figures, in different rooms. I left them out partly because I ran out of time to put them away – and partly because I want to extend the celebration. Thinking I’ll leave them out till the Presentation…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find your remarks on the rainy time very interesting, since the media is never calm about anything.
    I still have all my Christmas decorations up; the Three Kings arrived a week ago and I was going to put them away tonight, but I find myself with a sinus infection. I’m tired, so why rush? But I will begin to slowly put the more glitzy things away first. All should be gone by February 2. And I will play the Christmas cds until I feel I’ve really heard them all – listened to them all! The words to the old carols are so full of meaning, that I don’t want to just say, “well, I didn’t have time to listen this year – maybe next”. That’s unacceptable. It’s so important, and Epiphany gives the time, like Leila said, to spend some time pondering it all.

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  4. The monk’s voices are soaring through the room as I write – thank you! We leave lights around our kitchen and breakfast room windows year round – they are equally lovely on a late summer evening when it’s not quite dark. I very much enjoy the quiet of January and being still in my heart and mind.

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  5. I’m 100% Russian (both my parents were born in Russia) so many of the words were familiar to me. Ukrainian is a little different but enough similarities to be able to recognize some key words. My parents’ religions made a distinct separation from the Russian Orthodox church. We did sing acapella in our father’s church growing up. Later we became part of the Russian Baptist church in Los Angeles where my maternal grandmother attended. Sorry for going on and on. 🙂 When we moved to the Seattle area after living in Southern California for 36 years we had to learn to embrace the rain and not let it govern our lives. I’m happy that you haven’t been adversely affected by the bands of storms going through California.

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    1. You could “go on and on” even more and it would please me 🙂 Your heritage adds to my enjoyment of the singing of those Ukrainian monks, and it is wonderful that you could understand some of the words. I suspect that at least one of the carols ended with the phrase “Christ is born!” — am I right?

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