On my table sit two glass vases. They are rectangular and squat. Floating in water, half-way up, are beautiful cranberries bringing color to this ordinary place. Resting on the berries are floating candles, cream-colored, offering gentle light from above. These are left-over remnants of our Thanksgiving table... simple beauty waiting to be recycled.
Not six feet from where I sit, stands our beautiful Frasier Fir. Cut down from a nearby Christmas Tree farm with hands that were chilled to the bone. Just minutes before we placed our saw on the trunk, our children were running joyfully through the rows and rows of trees. Friends-who-are-like-family stood by our side and the memory of it is sweet.
But the water beneath the berries is cloudy. The tree stands bare and dark. From where I sit, one holiday reminder falls to my right and one holiday precursor sits patiently to my left. I am in the middle. And I feel that deeply today.
As the last of the Thanksgiving meal is warmed or pitched or given to the dog, I find myself wondering if I will release the sense of gratitude found as quickly as we ate that meal. After spending a month deliberately seeking thankfulness, how strange it seems to step into today purposefully switching one season for the next.
And while sometimes Advent follows fast on the heels of Thanksgiving, this year that is not the case. Though my Advent wreath and candles await, we will light nothing until next Sunday afternoon. Because, though the message is muddled by commercials and fliers, the Christmas season has yet to begin. Though Black Friday is behind us and carols abound, the season to come is coming yet.
So, what do we do with this time in-between? And is there any way to hold the hands of both seasons and see something more? If I continued to embrace an attitude of gratefulness, what might this do to the wonder of Advent? If I teach my children that they can continue to give thanks, how might that effect the way they manage the extreme materialism of a culturally-confused-Christmas? As I sit between two reminders, this question seems important today.
I want to walk carefully ahead. I want to take with me what I have seen and heard and lived and loved and use it to focus on what matters for us. I want to remember that the tree in this room is more than a decoration. It symbolizes a season when we remember what it means to see HOPE incarnate in a baby boy. It helps us remember that we are loved and that the God of all creation sees us, knows us, cares for us today.
Yes, the overlap is there. Even when my cranberries are gone, I will carry that gratitude into a season of joy. Because in my whole life there is nothing I am more grateful for than the birth God's Own Son.