Comfort and Joy

Usually at this time of year, I’m a hot mess of frantic activity, running from one rehearsal to another, slogging through slush and cold, toting music bags and work bags and shopping bags from place to place.

But there’s something different about this year.

It’s rather quiet, and calm…dare I say even peaceful?   I’ve decorated the house, and done the cards.  I toyed with the idea of actually baking something (don’t laugh, I have been known to bake things on occasion), and even pulled a few cookie recipes out of magazines.  Yes, I actually sat down in a chair long enough to look through the December issue of a magazine.   In spite of all the upheaval and sadness that have characterized the past several months, this season I feel an unusual sensation of peace.

Next Tuesday, our church is having a special service entitled “Comfort and Joy.”  It’s designed for people who are having a hard time getting into the spirit of the season – for those who have suffered losses of family members, who are in the process of divorce or family troubles, who are jobless or even homeless.  When this service was first announced some weeks back, I immediately marked the date onto my calendar, for this has been a year when loss abounded for me. 

But as Tuesday approaches, it’s almost as if I no longer feel the need to go, as if comfort and joy have already found me.  Somewhere in the midst of decorating the house, placing the angel figurines on the mantel, scattering white candles around the house, and filling this Fitz and Floyd plate with golden ornaments, the spirit of Christmas has finally found me.

Comfort and joy comes to each of us in different and sometimes unexpected ways.  Often for me it comes through music – and it’s a curious thing that the avenue which sometimes causes me the most anxiety and wear during this time of year also brings me the most satisfaction and joy.  There are others who find joy in cooking and crafting, or shopping and wrapping.  Of course the time I spend with my family and my friends is a great source of comfort and joy, for what is more evocative of the spirit of Christmas than sharing happy times and memories with the ones we love.  And though it may be tinged with sadness, for always there are thoughts of days gone by when children were small and families were whole, there is still comfort in the smiles, laughter, and even the tears that come from long years of shared experiences.

Perhaps it’s simply a matter of having  taking  time this year, for I have consciously stepped back from many of the demands usually placed on me this season.  My rather small Christmas shopping list has been further diminished by a decision to make donations to charitable organizations in honor of those friends for whom I usually buy trinkets or gift cards.  Our gift to ourselves this year is a week spent in Florida with our son and daughter in law and we’ll be driving down so we can take Magic and Molly along.  But somehow, the thought of an 18 hour car ride seems relaxing rather than daunting. 

It’s quite a miracle really, this sense of golden peacefulness I’m feeling.  I half expect to wake up in the morning  my usual anxiety ridden December self.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe this year I have some extra angels watching over me, gently smoothing my furrowed brow and bringing tidings of comfort and joy just for me.

I hope so.  And I hope you have some too.

So, how about you?  What brings you comfort and joy in the midst of the holiday season?

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9 thoughts on “Comfort and Joy

  1. I’m hoping that pulling out a box or two of decorations will help me get in the spirit. And I’m making a few little gifts; that always soothes me. As for comfort and joy – well, this year it’s a little tough to find, but I’m determined. It’s our first married Christmas and that makes it special all by itself.

  2. I remember from past years how this time of the year was so busy for you – and I’m glad that you’ve scaled back and feel more of an easy flow to your days.
    Being with my family, cozied up on the couch with only the Christmas tree lights on while we watch a holiday show (ABC family channel has a couple of classics every night!) – is what has been comforting me.
    Our tree is up and decorated but we’ve let my girl do the baking this year! Ha! Hershey has a box mix for their famous peanut butter kisses cookies. Angie is the baking master!! (of course, I have to pop them in and out of the oven!)
    Have a great day, Becca.

  3. Advent is my answer to it all. Of course I prepare for Christmas just like everyone else, but doing it in the knowledge that the Christmas season begins on December 25 shifts the focus – for sure!

    Scaling back is good, too. I’ve stopped trying to replicate the huge Christmas celebrations of my childhood and youth. They had their place, but now its time for a quieter celebration.

  4. I appreciate this post so much. While at first I didn’t think this past year was particularly troubled or worrisome, now that it’s over, I’m realizing the stresses were there…but buried under the guise of pretending that everything is okay. I’m glad this year is over, and I’m trying hard to sink into a quiet peace and place of contentment that will fortify me for the year ahead, and enable me to look towards it with optimism and joy. I wish you the best, Becca. Your wonderful writing is often a balm for my spirit, and I appreciate being able to read your offerings.

  5. First of all, I have tears in my eyes reading this post. It’s simply beautiful, and in so many ways — the beauty of the “Comfort and Joy” tradition, the beauty of your own growth and recognition — coming through that thicket of a forest in which you’ve been wandering about for rather awhile now. This is such an uplifting, encouraging, promising piece — it makes me cry, but it makes me smile, too.

    I confess, I’m a tad envious of all decorated, baking and all, here on December 19. I’m sure it’ll pull together. Maybe I need a little of that grace.

  6. I find comfort right now in trying not to “have to do” all the time. …by allowing myself once again to be late with my Christmas cards telling myself that the recipients will still enjoy them next week as well…by not stressing that I have not bought a present for my husband yet

    but to sit down in the sofa next to the tree and watch tv with my husband 🙂

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