On the fourth day of Christmas

IMG_3206 28 desember

He dwells again in heaven’s realm,

The Son of God today;

and still he loves His little ones

And hears them when they pray.

 Listen to “Jeg er så glad” in norwegian, sung by Celina Hristov and Oslo fagottkor

Over Christmas I will share the words of my favorite Christmas songs and my favorite winter pictures.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

On the third day of Christmas

IMG_320429.desember

Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled

Sissel sings “Hark the Herald angels sing” with the Trondheim Soloists.

Over Christmas I will share the words of my favorite Christmas songs and my favorite winter pictures.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

On the second day of Christmas

IMG_0198 26,desember

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain:

heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.

In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed

the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

**********************

Listen to the choir at Kings College

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

On the first day of Christmas

IMG_2804 mistletoe2

Joy to the world

The Lord is come

Let earth receive her King!

Let every heart prepare Him room

and heaven and nature sing.

Over Christmas I share my favorite Christmas carols and some winter pictures I love.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 24th- the everyday saints

Creche from Provence, picture by ThyThy on Wikipedia Commons

Years ago I stumbled upon a book about the Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Loretta Hines amazing collection of santos and angels from 17th century Italy. It is one of the things I really long to see. For it’s beauty, yes. For the size and scope, yes, that too. For the artisanship that went into creating them, oh yes, I want to see that. But most of all I’d love to see the display of ordinariness around the nativity. Italian and french nativities are not describing something out of this world, but an event just in the middle of our ordinary, everyday world.

Each figure is called a santos, a saint. More often than not the small doll is an ordinary person, going about her day to day business, and then the miracle happens. I wondered why God did not choose more fancy surroundings when he came to earth. Would it not have helped his case to be born among the well connected, those with money, influence and power? I am quite sure some of them knew the Lord, and would have been eager to help. For him as God I think he wants to make sure no human will be able to take credit for what only God can do. For him as man, for us as men, I think he wants to show us that being human is glory enough. Nothing can be added to make human life more valuable, except life itself, nothing can be taken away. He came to restore the possibility and promise in being human, not to make us angels or gods, just humans. Saints of every day.

IMG_2647 julestjerneWishing you a Christmas of joy and blessing, the next twelve days will be posts with my favorite winter pictures and Christmas songs.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 23rd – the Christmas martyrs

IMG_2382 17.des lysBut Martha was busy with all the things that had to be done. She came to Jesus and said,
Lord, my sister had left ME to do ALL the work by myself.
Don’t you care?
Tell her to help me!

Martha, Martha, the Lord answered.
You are worried and upset about many things.
But only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better.
And it will not be taken away from her.

No matter what you believe, the reading for today should be this one from Luke 10:40-42.

You see we have a choice.
You are probably kinder and milder than me, I on the other hand tend to act like Martha, especially around Christmas. “Hey, I do all this to make it the best holiday ever, for everybody, and yes, I do remember why we celebrate Christmas! Come on, appreciate it, get everybody to help!”

I am sure Jesus wants us to help each other. What is more uncomfortable is that he pokes our self-made halos. Do  we dare to be quiet long enough to question our motives? Could there be just a tiny hint of self deserving martyrdom in all the busy housewifery? Are we sure what we do has any thing to do with the one thing needed? Do we dare to make new choices or do we hide behind other people’s choices and demand validation because we doubt the worth of these acts?

If what I do is worth doing I would do it no matter who recognized it, wouldn’t I?

Just asking.

Believe me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 22nd – the perfect Christmas

At least the tree is up!

At least the tree is up!

Have you ever seen monks creating a rice mandala or an african village preparing a pattern in the dust? Intense concentration and effort, everyone at work. Then, when it is finished the mandala is swept away and the village dances in the middle of the dirt.  The result of days of work disappears with the wind. The quality of the art is not determined by the product, but by the process.

Then try this; next time you wait in line at the grocery store, read the headlines on all the holiday magazines. Quick fix this, super easy that, ten minute this and instant heirloom that. We live in a culture that accepts to be fooled by lookalike products as long as the long, tiresome and costly process can be skipped. We even expect something handmade to be a little lopsided and whimsical, which of course neither Faberge or Michelangelo would have considered an option.

Why do we think we have to hurry?

What if preparing for Christmas was not about products, looks and things, but all about the process of preparing ourselves for Christmas? How would it feel to make a wreath to remind your nostrils about the smell of evergreens and your soul about eternity instead of hanging something to decorate? What if the time leading up to Christmas was not about doing things to get them done, but doing them because doing it was meaningful?

My preparations have changed that way. I used to have lots of things I had to do. Actually too many things. All to making it look, feel and smell like Christmas in every nook and cranny. As I never was able to do all I had planned,  as people are just as ( well, more) tired, different, happy or angry at Christmas as they usually are, Christmas never got to perfect.

Then I turned it around. Christmas is perfect, Christmas just is, we do not have to do anything to make it happen. What I have to do is to do things that helps me be there, amazed and in wonder when it happens.

I still do things. Most take time and effort, while the end product will not always last. My process of receiving, savoring, enjoying, listening, smelling, tasting, the wonder of Christmas stays with me forever, perfect.

Not necessarily perfect...

Not necessarily perfect…

Believe me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 21st- facing the light

IMG_2691 turning pointIn Norway tonight is the longest night of the year, which of course means that the days will be getting longer. An old norse saying is ” face the sun, and the shadows will stay behind you.” I am an optimist, and tend to do that always. Except when I get too tired. Except when I loose focus. Except when I do too much. Except when I forget the “why” and just concentrate on the “how.” Which, I guess, is when I need it most. So, even if I do not celebrate winter solstice, but Christmas, I do celebrate light.

Perhaps the most untangling tool of them all. Just to remember, to prepare for Christmas is just that, facing the light, making room for light. Today there even is a promise of spring.

IMG_2792 spring 2

Believe me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.

In December my brother and I write an advent calendar blog together in norwegian.You may visit at  JULEFRYD or Christmas Joy. This year we will be writing or sharing thoughts and joys of gifts, giving and sharing. We will post there every day, and I will share some of that blog here on indexyourlife too.

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 20ieth – peace I give you

IMG_2507 Christmas colors

Did you ever hear about the year the Mummitrolls woke form their winter sleep just before Christmas? Tove Jansson tells us how they are frightened to see how everybody is running about, obviously to pacify the coming, angry, monster called Christmas that demands gifts, trees, ornaments, food. What is it all about? Sometimes, I think, that is how our Christmas preparations could be viewed from the outside. Not even for outsiders, but for my closest and dearest who really do not get what all the fuss is about. I know that this and that has to be done. Even if I am totally relaxed there are extras to be done to have the extraordinary happen.

Perhaps it looks like the activity outside my window just now? For weeks these eager workers with festive colored vehicles have been busy making a big hill of dirt and sand. Then for the next weeks they have been leveling the very same hill.

Well, I do know their goal is to eventually build some houses and a park. I just do not understand how this will lead to that, yet. Next summer it will all be done. Till then I take advice form the most important part of this picture. You see the orange sign one is carrying?

SLOW down, it is all about peace, isn’t it?
IMG_2504 slow downBelieve me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.

In December my brother and I write an advent calendar blog together in norwegian.You may visit at  JULEFRYD or Christmas Joy. This year we will be writing or sharing thoughts and joys of gifts, giving and sharing. We will post there every day, and I will share some of that blog here on indexyourlife too.

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.

December 19th – the no-list Christmas

early giftI probably made my first list before I could write. There have always been too many ideas, things to do and things to remember.  I was making lists of what I had to do, so that I could start doing what I longed to do. I used to plan my homework as soon as I got my books in the beginning of the year. Not to do well, just to do what I had to every night, and then enjoy as much time off as possible. For someone watching me there would be no difference. I could be doing my history lesson, cross off my list, and keep reading history. I would be doing my english homework, cross it off, and start reading an english novel.

I had to have lists though, to keep me on track. It used to be like that for Christmas. Long lists and detailed planning, crossing it off and then enjoying what never made it to the list. Making ornaments, quilting, painting, baking cookies, festooning garlands, buying gifts, listening to music.

Only I would know the difference, and knowing me everyone would think I had a Christmas to do list, still. I do not. There is absolutely nothing you have to do for Christmas to come. There are countless opportunities of things we may do to help us remember why we like to invite the season into our homes.

Now, I do as Scrooge learned to do. I keep Christmas all year round. It is not a time of the year, but a place in my heart. All year I will be finding gifts and decorations, all year I will have fun planning and visualizing. Through fall items will find their way into my shopping basket that have to wait in the larder for Christmas. And then, in the first weeks of december I will take stock. Most of the gifts will be ready, there will be surprises planned.

IMG_0091 hvit juleroseThen I will do something Christmas related every day for december. Not to get it done, but to make both body and soul remember to celebrate peace, forgiveness and new beginnings.

Then, finally, I will make a list. The gifts I have not bought, the food everyone would love to have, the concert I just plain forgot all about. You see, I am old enough to play first and do homework last now, and you know, everybody will feel the difference. Christmas celebrations made with duty are simply not the same as festivities that spring forth from joy.

IMG_2050 surprise 2

Believe me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.

In December my brother and I write an advent calendar blog together in norwegian.You may visit at  JULEFRYD or Christmas Joy. This year we will be writing or sharing thoughts and joys of gifts, giving and sharing. We will post there every day, and I will share some of that blog here on indexyourlife too.

All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.