Comfort and Joy
This is the time of year when individuals in the arts and crafts community step forward with alacrity to sell their wares to those who are seeking unique gifts for dear ones and wanting to support something bigger than big business.
Today I took my daughters to the annual craft fair at our church, one we patronize every November, but before we entered the community hall with its Christmas carols and abundant tables laden with diverse offerings from knitters, wood workers, potters, tailors, and bakers, there was something I had to do.
I got in line for confession.
It went better than I had hoped. Afterwards I felt as if I received maybe too much mercy.
But Jesus met me in the confessional. What else did I expect?
Truly, my step was lighter when we walked across the courtyard to meet friends at the craft fair. Shortly after we entered that cheerful, open space with so much red and green, so many sparkles and lights, we were given free sugar cookies. I then chatted with my friend Kathy whom I had not see in far too long while my girls walked around with her daughter Ariel.
One of our priests works in wood, making bowls, crosses, lazy susans, and pens. I bought a multi-hued bowl to complement the one we got from him a year or two ago. And from an older gentleman who has been a fixture at the craft fair for years (supplying simple but sleek wooden toys that have a distinct Santa quality to them), I finally purchased a toy that my kids have long been fascinated with playing.
Arriving home, I had to kiss my husband goodbye. We've gone in different directions all day, but he needed to take my son to a late soccer game on the far side of town. My oldest daughter decided to go with and grab the now rare opportunity to watch her big brother play.
Almost as soon as they left, I made a big batch of brownies that I have been contemplating for weeks, inspired by all the seasonal goodies at church, Meanwhile Danny and Ella, my youngest two, had a grand time playing with the new toy from the fair that involved a sturdy wood frame, plastic spoon, tiny ball, net and some careful aim. Later, they watched Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer; it was just that kind of cozy, looking-forward-to-Christmas day.
Because of my wonderful mood, of such a kind that I have not enjoyed in some time, I made popcorn for my little ones without hesitation when they asked. My absolute childhood favorite, Frosty the Snowman, was then on pause.
Really, the day couldn't have gotten much better.
But it did.
I asked my kids if they wanted me to play "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" on the guitar for them, and they responded with enthusiasm. To my surprise, my instrument was actually in tune. I warmed up with "Angels We Have Heard on High", and then I played some of their favorites and my own personal favorite that my dad played often, "Joy to the World". Because they asked sweetly, I even let them strum my lovely guitar.
But first I admired its shiny, wine-colored surface, pretty details, and, yes, even the smell of its strings. I remembered the day my husband surprised me with the beautiful instrument, and my cup, already full of whispers and hints of the most wonderful and generous time of year, overflowed with joy and thanksgiving.
The weather has finally cooled. God is merciful. I have a guitar.
And Christmas, my friends, is just around the corner.