In order to avoid sitting around anxiously fretting about what critique group suggestions I'll receive (tonight!) on the novel that I wrote so fast and furiously last month, with so much love and hope and fear, I'm filling my days to the brim with the activities of the season. I'm fortunate to be a member of a faith community that finds so many ways to celebrate Christmas.
I helped the youth bake cookies to serve at fellowship time to the congregation and to share when we go caroling to shut-ins. Great was the chaos, of course, and tasty were the results.
I clapped my hands off after the youth Christmas play, written by my fellows St. Paul's UMC members Rebecca Glancy and Amy Abshire. Our church has as its mission statement To openly share creative opportunities to grow in Christ's love through worship, fellowship, service, and learning. We take the "creative" here very seriously, and usually we write our own Christmas plays. I wrote a couple myself, one based on my picture book One Small Lost Sheep, and one a new script about a chronically delinquent and deficient star who gets chosen on Christmas Eve for the most important assignment of all.
I clapped off what was left of my hands at the Christmas Cabaret put on by our little church singing group, the AnthemAires, who always delight us with stunningly beautiful settings of music, audience participation, and hilarious stage business.
I organized our Mitten Tree, which we decorate with warm outerwear to donate to the homeless shelter. I used to run our Shoebox Gifts for the Homeless drive, but now the homeless shelter prefers us to give in a different way. In the Shoebox days, I wrote a song for us to sing in worship: "Deck the halls with old shoeboxes [you can supply the fa-la-la-la-las], Fill the bottoms and the topses. Fill with gifts to give the homeless. Thus we share the joy of Christmas." My new song to usher in the Mitten Tree era goes: "Oh Mitten Tree, oh, Mitten Tree, we come to fill your branches! Oh, Mitten Tree, oh, Mitten Tree, we come to fill your branches! With hats and socks and scarves and gloves, we give to share our Savior's love. Oh, Mitten Tree, oh, Mitten Tree, we come to fill your branches!" The tree is now filling up nicely.
I hunted all over to find a doll stroller to give to the needy child who had requested it on our church love wreath. Finally, my clever daughter-in-law searched for it online and informed me it was in our Boulder Target on aisle E-5. Sure enough, there it was!
I babysit so that Christopher and Ashley can rehearse with the choir for the upcoming choir cantata, and Christopher can perform with the bell choir; he's one of those amazing bell ringers who can sub for anyone who is absent and ring two bells in each hand. (I was one of those non-amazing bell ringers who alerted the congregation to every wrong note by my constant grimaces of traumatized terror).
What else? The women's Christmas luncheon is coming up this Saturday. I'm the one in charge of organizing the caroling for the 21st. We'll all go to church on Christmas Eve at 6:30, and Christopher will return to play for the 11:00 service. I'm going to preach the sermon and preside over the service for Epiphany Sunday the beginning of January. Writing sermons has become quite the hobby for me. If you want any sermons written to order, just call!
Just as Carly Simon sang that she didn't have time for the pain, I'm trying to make sure that I don't have time for revision jitters. Just time for holiday happiness with my beloved church family.