There was a lot of bustle around out house yesterday. Making Cinnamon ornaments. Outlining the frame of our garage and front doors with tiny white lights. Cutting Christmas cookies. Getting our hands gooey and sweet with powdered sugar icing. There was a lot of doing. There was a lot of being. And we were all together.
I loved it.
But it was the end of the day that I think I treasured most. The house was quiet–I could hear the ticking of our clock again. My husband and I had just kissed the last of our three boys goodnight. He went to our room to finish up some work. I went to the kitchen, where flour, sugar and butter were still waiting on the counter for cookie batch no. 2.
I put away the updated sugar cookie recipe that we had used that afternoon, and pulled out the ugly brown index card with the stains and watermarks. “AUTUMN LEAF COOKIE” is what the typewriter-written title read. This was the recipe that came from my Great-Grandma Schuette. I never knew her, and I don’t know much about her other than that her name was Clara, and she raised a thoughtful, determined, and faithful man in my Grandpa. Perhaps she liked to bring out this recipe in the fall and cut out leaf shapes with her cookie cutters. I don’t know, but somehow the recipe became my family’s go-to for Christmas cut-out cookies.
I pulled out the stainless steel measuring spoons and the wooden-and-metal pastry blender, both from my mom’s utensil drawer in that house by the woods in Missouri. I went to work: scooping flour and cracking eggs. I added the soft butter, and I thought about watching my Aunt Jane scrape the last bits of butter from the wrapper, wondering if her depression-era parents had taught her the value of not wasting. I found myself scraping the butter from my wrappers, too. I picked up the pastry blender and worked the butter into the flour; how different this was than earlier today when my KitchenAid did all the work. I loved the smells. I loved the process of working the butter more and more into the flour until I couldn’t tell which is which anymore. I took my time and thought about nothing in particular except making cookies. It was wonderful.
There is something beautiful that happens with Christmas nostalgia. We slow down. We sit quietly with our memories. We allow ourselves to escape technology and phone watches and app-controlled vacuums. We give our souls an unencumbered breath of clean air.
It is here where we can remember who we are and where we have come from. It is here that we remember that our life is more than just a haphazard group of days puzzled together. It is here where we can see our own stories for what they are–the good, the hard, the blessings, the struggles.
It is here where God delights to enter to remind us of his faithfulness. Each year, we take time to celebrate God With Us–his love that came down to rescue us. And every year, his offer remains the same. He comes to the humble and lowly; he comes in unexpected people and places; he comes, not expecting gifts, but bringing the most wonderful gift.
Will you take some time to slow down today? Will you allow for a little nostalgia?
Perhaps we could all celebrate that God comes to us again, today, with exactly the thing we need.
God With Us.
May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us or abandon us. 1 Kings 8:57
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. Psalm 89:2