What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.” ~ Agnes M. Pharo. (1904-1985).
A writer, artist, and grandmother, Pharo's passage is considered one of the top ten quotes about Christmas.
The completed Advent calendar has been returned to my son and daughter-in-law and I am breathing a sigh of relief.
Getting the calendar ready wasn't without a few little challenges.
The most frustrating challenge by far occurred as the project was nearing completion.
I had painted the rims of the boxes thinking they would be prettier and also hoping to hide any exposed wood. Unfortunately, most of them would not fit back into their slots.
The boxes had to be sanded and during that process, some of them chipped on the sides which meant I had to touch them up with paint and varnish them again.
Now the miniature boxes have to be stuffed with treats mostly of the non-edible kind.
The shelves at Party City were well stocked with all kinds of little treasures that will fit into these rather tiny boxes. Each one must contain three items for my three grandchildren who have various allergies to milk and nuts.
Perhaps one day, this calendar will have a special meaning for my grandchildren.
They might remember all the arts and crafts they did with me when they were young. Those were special times when we painted wood or ceramic ornaments or made gingerbread homes, or foam castles, or baked cookies.
Or they might also remember all the laughter we shared. I hope they will.
I like to remember past times with loved ones and surround myself with family mementoes.
Last year, my mother gave me a few vintage Christmas ornaments that once belonged to my nonna. I have them this holiday season in a Venetian glass bowl, a birthday gift from my youngest son and his wife - very appropriate as a display I think, as our family on my mother's side hails from a small town very close to Venice.
I painted the glass ornaments with my watercolours in my sketchbook. (The poinsettia on the next page smudged a bit on the glass ornament page.)
An embroidered Christmas banner my mother finished for me about ten years ago is currently on display near the front entrance of our home.
This will be our first Christmas without Mom so her handmade items are all the more precious to me.
When my children were young, we made special decorations that still adorn my tree every year.
Now that I am retired, I can admit that I chose one day in late November or early December to stay home from work (cough, cough!) and my children and I would make Christmas ornaments and begin baking for the holiday season. As tradition would have it, we would also play special songs. Each holiday season, out came the Nana Mouskouri cassettes along with everyone's favourite, Dolly and Kenny and their 1980s Christmas album.
As corny as it is, Christmas is not Christmas without Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers singing "I'll be home with bells on." My son bought me the CD not too long ago, and I think he even has his own copy of "Once upon a Christmas." We have to play the entire CD at least once when the whole family is gathered together around Christmas time.
We all have treasured ornaments, recipes, traditions that remind us of Christmases long ago spent with loved ones.
During this month, and in December, when we are all rushing and trying to get everything done just right, remember the special preparations for Christmas with those you cherish most, and don't forget to create new memories, for these are fleeting moments.