I usually begin decorating for the advent and Christmas season on the first day of Advent. It has become a tradition for me over the last six or so years anyway. But this year I put it off. I wasn’t going to be in this house over Christmas I argued, I’d be working anyway I thought, and there are plenty of decorations at work…
But honestly, all of those excuses are lame!
Really it’s because I’m not with him, and he isn’t here and this isn’t ‘our house.’
I got a little sad and missed him even more.
But this morning as I tidied up the studio and realised that my tiny 3 foot tall tree was just there in its box in the corner, I wondered how hard it would be to put up (not hard) and if it was worth it for only a couple of weeks. I found some fabric and covered a large crate for the tree to sit upon.
I pulled the small and bedraggled plastic and metal tree out of it’s cardboard and attached its hard plastic feet, and remembered how nice it is for things not to need to be “perfect.”
As I moved the little letters that spell “home” on my bookshelf I thought about the cottage he has bought for us and how much I am looking forward to being there with him. As I pushed aside the beautiful copy of Sebastiao Salgado’s Genesis, I thought of all the wonderful gifts we have shared with each other and found myself looking forward to wrapping the gift he had bought for my father.
I pulled out the small box of decorations I have collected across three continents — small handmade ornaments that have been given by friends or bought at special times — and I found my heart swelling. I remembered these friends and special times together singing round pianos and eating together by candlelight; I relished remembering the making of a fabric garland from last year and hung an easily made wreath on my door.
As I did this Bethany Dillon’s “How Great is our God” came to life through my speakers. My heart swelled and I realised that in not wanting to face the disappointments of the season I was also denying myself its greatest joys.
As I hung the tiny ornaments I found in a small shop in Dundee, Scotland, I prayed for these friends, but also for all those things I am anticipating and expecting. I pulled out my handmade stocking – slightly uneven and stitching ugly in places – and sat it under the tree. I found myself pondering what Christmas will bring this year.
Anticipation and expectation – that is what the season of Advent is about.
I have so much to anticipate – not least the celebration of Christmas and epiphany, but also a reunion with my love and (gulp) our wedding. If I’m not careful it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Continuing to work with great people, Overland from Oz, and not least applying for a visa to move to be with my favourite running man – 2014 holds much promise.
Allowing myself to anticipate the season, to rejoice in Christ, to rejoice in time with friends and family and to relish the moments of preparation, of anticipation, and of expectation is where I find the gravy in Christmas.
Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.
Anna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer. You can follow this adventure on Not A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook. More of her photography can be viewed here. For more on the domestic, see Quotidian Home or her previous website, Goannatree.