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A Place


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It’s evening now and the day has been full. Plum’s still awake, but he and the Spouse have just gone for a walk around the neighbourhood. The other two are tucked into bed and listening to a little music while they (hopefully) drift gently off to sleep. The room is quiet around me.

Late this afternoon, the Spouse came home with a Christmas tree, and it’s now set up in the corner by the bookcase. Still bare, still tagged. But ready and fragrant. Maybe that’s all we need for this mid-December evening. A bit of quiet. A bit of music. Something to awaken the senses to the specificity of place. Ready.

*    *   *

On Saturday morning, I was down at the park, standing around with the other neighbourhood parents, watching the kids play.

“So, are you organised?”

“Is anyone ever organised?”

There was laughter, but it was a little tense. There seemed to be a mutually acknowledged level of stress about Christmas. Maybe it was an act – one of those social conventions we play into. I don’t know. This stress thing is something that seems to go with being a parent of small children as Christmas approaches. It’s what parents talk about when they get together.

Now I must confess that I’m not one of those super-organized types who have all the Christmas planning out of the way in July. I still have a few plots and plans to get sorted out. Church things and home things and the parcel for Nanaimo only just got in the mail this afternoon. And there are some plans I’m thinking may not happen at all – like the Christmas pudding I’ve been procrastinating about. I’m not sure that a week’s worth of aging is going to cut it. But maybe I’ll dig up some ageless pudding recipe – if you have one, I’d be happy to give it a try.

But all that said, I don’t really get the stress of this season. We’re not sprinting towards anything. Not really. It has come and it will come again. Maybe that’s part of the gift of these cyclical seasons. Christmas is coming – like it came last year. Like it will come next year, too. Each year, it is a little different. Last year, Mary’s story resounded with us as we, too, awaited a birthing season. This year, Plum is here and faces the world with his wide open eyes, always looking for light.

We aren’t in a race towards Christmas. We are in Advent. A waiting, preparing, being ready kind of season. Whether or not we get “everything” done, we are ready. And this season is a place, too.

There is a day

when the road neither

comes nor goes, and the way

is not a way but a place.

Wendell Berry

About the author

Katie Munnik is an Ottawa writer currently living in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her studying husband and three growing children. Each Monday on the Messy Table, she writes about the practical theology of parenting and the practice of reading lectionary. You can also find Katie on twitter @messy_table
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One Comment

  1. avatar
    Lorna says:

    Too true Katie. People say they are stressed about Christmas, but what they are actually stressing about is the commercialism of Christmas not the waiting for the Holy Child.

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