Posts Tagged ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’

IMG_9410There was a lot of imperfect going on at the Blue Cotton House for Christmas.

I don’t think the perfect gift was in anyone’s stocking – or wrapped in paper. The house kept falling into disorder. We didn’t read The Night Before Christmas – but from Sunday through Wednesday – there were smiles and laughter, hugs hello and good-bye.

The truffles didn’t get rolled and sprinkled until yesterday (3 days after Christmas). Some still need to be dipped in chocolate – and the majeskas? Well, they just didn’t get made.

IMG_9433It was a patchwork Christmas – one son leaving for California with the sunrise Christmas Eve. The oldest making it for Muffaletta Christmas Eve, parting ways for Christmas Eve service – and then there were 3. No mad-cap gift prep because the youngest is 13.

I’m graceless at new things – like 3 home on Christmas Day and no little ones, this moving out of raising boys-to-men to the mom’s role in the life of little-men-to-growing men. The Christmas Tree and table decorations, and traditions like turkey on Christmas Night and muffalettas on Christmas Eve, the music, the movies, the hanging of the “First Christmas” with my husband on the tree – it anchors me in the ever-changing dynamic of celebrating life with 5 sons growing.

Andrea Bocelli’s “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Adeste Fidelis” allowed me to feel what the shepherds must have felt when the angels appeared to them that night long ago.

Our church read the Christmas story – and gave some background information. Did you realize that Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah as high priest was the only church leader who could have given the verdict for Mary to be stoned if Joseph so chose to go that path. Not a coincidence that Zechariah was struck mute, giving him time to understand what God wanted him to do.

My big little guy, all 13 years old, not believing in Santa but believing in our Savior, he wanted me to make my Christmas casserole of hard-boiled eggs, chips, bacon and my cheese sauce. “No onions, Mom,” he asked.

Santa didn’t get a letter from the boy’s this year. The boys have always done one, passing the writer role down from the oldest to, well, the 4th son wrote it last year and the 5th wouldn’t write one on principle.

“I don’t want anything,” the 15 year old said.

The 18 year old wanted clothes – not grunge-looking clothes but clothes that showed a maturing, to go with his short hair cut.

IMG_9366Christmas Morning woke to a quiet. No early risers discovering what Santa brought – just a 13 year old discovering mid-morning a stocking full of coal – because only believers get presents from Santa – non-believers get coal.

“It pays to be bad,” the 3rd said. “You can get a good price for coal.”

There were smiles, new pants that fit just right, and sweaters for swag. There was It’s a Wonderful Life, The Man who Came for Dinner, Christmas in Connecticut, A Christmas Carol, and Ben Hur

and harness bells on the door.

Remote controlled helipoters instead of nerf guns

Merry Christmas phone calls to loved ones far away

Letter B gift exchanges – which is why there is a BIG Darth Vader under the tree

and my grandfather’s ornaments, my grandmother’s Christmas balls and my mother’s wreath because I don’t just like things, I like the story behind them.

IMG_9381Turkey, oyster dressing, a friend’s squash and cranberry casserole, savory green beans, egg nog and unfinished truffle balls – shared with friends and 3 of 5 sons.

It was an imperfect Christmas made perfect through the birth of a savior over 2000 years ago

when angels sang to a bunch of shepherds, shepherds who were so low they weren’t even allowed to go into the temple once a year to present their perfect sacrifice to atone for their sins – so they could be brought into the inner circle of God’s family.

Yet, according to our Christmas Eve service, these shepherds the angels visited were the select shepherds who raised the lambs, raised them without blemish, without brokenness, watched over them so they would be the perfect sacrifice for the sins of God’s people.

The angels appeared first to the most lost – and  dropped into their lap the most important news scoop since creation – Glad Tidings, an angelic message, the Inside Story of the greatest story Ever Told – through this baby in a manger, God and sinner reconciled.

IMG_9445How imperfectly awesome is that – Angels announcing to the lowest left-out of God’s children that a savior was born to save them, to wash their sins away that weren’t allowed to be washed away in the daily or yearly – because He would bring the temple to them, and there, in the fields, outcasts by their own, they would in a few years, have the opportunity to have God in them, Salvation in them – and they, too, would be washed white as snow because of the perfect sacrifice of a Savior, born in a manger.

Maybe that’s why I love the shepherd story the best, that the angels sing a message from God – and the shepherds carry it in their hearts to their community:

“Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the Newborn King”

and like the shepherds, I want to take the message to those that cross my path, even if it’s a path that takes me out of our way, even if is to people who think I am not worthy of the message, even if I’ve settled down to an evening under the stars, I want to rouse myself from my comfortable place to live the amazing joy of sharing something so awesome, just like the shepherds.

Between you and me? I want to not just do it, but feel the way those shepherds must have felt.

Christmas Day came for the outcasts, for the broken and the orphaned. Christmas Day came all for each imperfect me and you and everyone.

Wishing you an imperfectly beautiful Christmas Day every day this year!

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IMG_8875A few years ago when our house sold, we were going to put a bid on a house that night in town. After teaching, I was talking to my aunt, driving by that house – and it had a pending sign. I was so disappointed, I bought a turkey. That was on a Tuesday. By Friday, I had picked up the oysters, the dressing, chocolate chips and pecans – everything for a big dinner. No Big Dinner announcement was every made – it just evolved.

Early Saturday morning, I stuffed the turkey into the oven, started the oysters, directed the boys to move the harvest table outside.  Suddenly, it was a Blue Cotton Merry Thanksgaween (if it sounds familiar – we commandeered the name from an air-travel commercial) – and everyone had to dig into the costume chests. One came dressed with purple hair and a Frodo Baggins jacket on a stick pony, one was a knight, a basketball player, I arrived with cat ears and whiskers. I can’t remember all the costumes – except we were an imperfect, rag-tag group finding joy despite life’s imperfections.

This little Blue Cotton imperfect holiday has evolved. It’s not every year. It’s not one specific day – though it is always in the Fall – it is always family, unconventional – and merry.

Sometimes feast days are needed – and feast days always have family.

So we dress up imperfectly, build an imperfect feast, sit down to the imperfectly set table – and find blessing in this imperfect coming together.

This year, I delegated.

One son was in charge of games, another tree decorations. The two youngest – cookies and icing.

One son and his lovely girlfriend were in charge of decorating eggs. Friday night was spent in the kitchen with them coloring eggs. Husband and sons scoffed at our turmeric, paprika, blueberry and beet egg coloring – as they drilled holes to drain other eggs, use magic markers and lights for their creations. In this house full of boys, it was a gift, plain and simple – to have my son’s girlfriend there, just as excited about using spices and fruit to color eggs.

eggdyespicesThis out-of-the-box holiday allowed my husband and I to take an in-the-box activity – to produce two fun results.

IMG_8860Artsy girl meets Tech boy

IMG_8903Some joined in with the costumes. Some didn’t. Some said next year everyone had to dress the part they were reading. We covered every holiday.

My youngest read “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

“Mild He lays his glory by

born that we no more may die

born to raise us from the earth

born to give us second birth”

IMG_8892Another read Common Sense quotes from Thomas Payne

“To bring the matter to one point, Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says, No, to this question, is an independent, for independence means no more than this, whether we shall make our own law, or, whether the king, the greatest enemy which this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us there shall be no laws but such as I like.”

IMG_8918My husband read from a Charles Spurgeon Easter sermon:

“Five hundred or a thousand persons who had seen him at different times, declared that they did see him, and that he rose from the dead; the fact of his death having been attested beforehand. How, then, dare any man say that the Christian religion is not true, when we know for a certainty that Christ died and rose again from the dead? And knowing that, who shall deny the divinity of the Savior? Who shall say that he is not mighty to save? Our faith has a solid basis, for it hat all these witnesses on which to rest, and the more sure witness of the Holy Spirit witnessing in our hearts.” (“We Know Jesus Rose from the Dead, Because the Spirit Tells us So”)

IMG_8882Three read Edgar Allen Poe famous scary poem:

“One upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

‘Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door –

only this and nothing more” (“The Raven”).

IMG_8874One son was to read the Declaration of Independence but instead he performed a disappearing act for us with it – which somehow seemed symbolicly intuitive in today’s political climate.

IMG_8921In the imperfect daily, God gifts us with His blessings and His grace – from seeing trees sway back, sway forth in the wind, lifting their limbs high to him Him, their sound a song of praise

to squirrels digging holes, burying nutty pleasures for winter want

to a marriage that allows room for each of our gifts to find a place to grow tall, like 2 trees, side-by-side, intertwined into one.

to loving family enough to pull them into home, to break bread, share lofty ideas and silliness, to create imperfect opportunities out of imperfect love that somehow becomes something imperfectly beautiful.

The tree didn’t appear. We gave up on the cookies – and it was o.k. I pulled some homemade blueberry crunch muffins out of the freezer, made homemade pumpkin ice cream, watched grandbaby girl get in and out of the little yellow and orange car with her pup-pup,  organize the wooden men in the wooden school bus – and be a gecko to her papaw’s Land Shark.

IMG_8922Sipped hot spiced apple cider (without whipped cream because one son used it all on his waffles the day before) while watching all my boys to men play basketball and soccer under the imperfect, chilled, gray skies.

Oh, how God blesses us in the imperfect of ourselves, our situation and the daily – sometimes the blessing is just there waiting for us to look – like with trees and squirrels. Sometimes we have to invite the opportunity for the blessing to be – like in Big Dinners or Merry Thanksgaween inventions – and if we let the imperfect moments come quietly, don’t let the desire for worldly perfect chase blessing away -grace comes along with an armload of spirit fruit:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


After I watched grandbaby girl hug her uncles – all big and small of them, hug them good-bye,  I turned to clean up this beautiful, imperfect mess we all made.

“I’ve learned recently to love imperfection a lot because it shines such a big light on God’s grace. And if someone has grace for you that’s when you feel their love the most and they see you for who you are and they love you anyway.”
― Lacey Mosley

(I used beet juice with lemon juice to dye the eggs a pinkish/reddish color. I used the directions for the other colors from here)

1088 – 1108 – Still counting blessing with Ann at a Holy Experience.


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