(Or mess, as the case may be.)
"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."
~ Marianne Williamson
My friends, this day did not go as planned, and the "vision" I had for this post went seriously awry ... but what I ended up with was not only very real, but as I look back at my day, truly filled with joy. The kind of joy I am talking about here ... as is Ms. Williamson above ... is when things are really good. They are not always pretty or neat or well-rested - but they are always good. And there is always joy.
So today, as we take tea together - however we manage it, if we manage it - we are talking about Christmas joy. This is, without a doubt, the most joyous time of the year and there are as many reasons why, as there are people on the planet, but here are a few photos of my holiday joy, and my tea journal below, with some lovely input from a few readers and then ... drumroll please ... the winners of my book giveaways!
Where do I find joy in the holiday season?
They say scent is the strongest sense when it comes to remembering. Well, I love both peppermint and vanilla, and to me, that is the smell of Christmas joy. Goodness knows I'm here at this sink a lot during the holidays (all the days!) so I take particular joy in the scent of these suds. (I also love the scents of clove, orange and evergreen. Those are also distinctly "Christmas" to me.)
When baking with my kids - even when it's chaotic and there's perhaps some yelling - there is such joy in creating for those we love ... with those we love.
Please excuse the mess - the one behind me and the one on my head, lol. Earlybird and I are working on fruitcakes here ...
And then there was supposed to be tea, after the baking, before the crafting, and during the baby's nap, but ...
Well, a clean kitchen was not to be part of today's joy. (And I do take great joy in a clean kitchen!) But to be perfectly honest, my kitchen still looks like this as I type up this post (without the running water, of course) and once again the baby didn't nap.
So ... THIS had to wait:
Another year-long joy that seems especially rewarding at Christmas is crafting with my boys ...
No crafting happened today, though. These are the star-boys I began on St. Lucy's Day - very much a work in progress.
And there's much joy in receiving and sending Christmas cards each year ...
I love to post those wonderful faces where we can see them all season long. I love to talk about each family as we open and read each card. I love to pray for family and friends as I write out our own cards to them ...
There is SUCH joy in those connections.
And with the fruitcake finally in the oven, and the warm milk spiced with eggnog, I was ready to sit down and relax, and begin my post ...
But see, there was this little guy, and tea was not on his agenda.
A bottle of milk in his mama's arms was, though.
And a good book or two ... and some toys ...
But then, hey ...
So you know, if you had come to my house for tea today ... it would have been cold (because the heat's not working), and there would have been messes all over ... as well as one sick kid and one kid who wouldn't turn down the tv ... and a baby running a bit wild ... but.
There would have been joy. I guarantee it.
My Advent Tea Journal
In the natural world ...
It's a mild (40s) and mostly dry week for us here in New England. Which is fine by me. For now. I'd love to see some snow next week!
What I'm drinking ...
I saw this spiced eggnog mix in the Williams-Sonoma catalog a few weeks back and it intrigued me. I'm a big warm-milky-drinks fan, so I decided to give it a try and oh, I'm so glad I did! It is delicious ... comforting and custard-y tasting. You can have it cold or warm as I did (with whole milk) or you could add a spoonful to your coffee. My pretty mug is one of a set of six, a gift from my parents a few years ago. Also, coincidentally, from Williams-Sonoma.
What I'm reading ...
Lots and lots of children's Christmas books and lovely December issues of my favorite magazines.
What I'm working on ...
I can't wait to show you all this ... I am putting together a hand-drawn weekly home + seasons planner for myself for 2015! It is definitely a labor of love, but I'm enjoying all the line-drawing and calendar-checking. It's all quite involved, so I will have to do a separate post about it soon. Here are some of the materials so far:
Words to inspire joy ...
Please see the very top of my post. :)
And now to hear from Denise and Mary, two dear readers and friends, about their tea and seasonal joy this week. I love to hear from you all, honestly. I feel like I yabber on so much here and tell you all - well, probably more than you want to know, lol - so when I read about your thoughts and families and teatimes and faith ... I am so humbled and grateful.
Please read on ...
From Denise ...
Dawn, thank you for hosting this lovely tea theme! I enjoy reading
all the entries, and virtually visiting others' homes! This morning I am having tea by the Christmas tree. (This is my snow tree. The only tree I put up this year, due to not being home enough!) Such a lovely sight with all the lights, which seems to be my Advent theme.
I normally have early morning tea, by myself, in communion with my Heavenly Father. Such a peaceful, restoring time, to sit, have something hot to sip, and to open His Word. Tea time with the Grands, well, now, that is a whole other story! I don't have a steady place to enjoy a cuppa & communion. It varies with the season and my mood. The actual cup is one my Mom & I found at a flea market. That's where all my tea cup and saucers have been purchased from. Over the years, having tea with my grands, some have been broken, so I have to replace them. ~smile~
This morning I am having Constant Comment, decaf. However, it has a taste of coffee (which I do not drink) in it, because I forgot to run a cup out of the Keurig (which was a Christmas gift to my dear husband). I have to admit, the last year or so has been hard. We have been dealing with a lot of family issues. So, I find myself this year, in the same place I was last year: Intentionally looking for JOY in this Holy Day Season.
As I discovered last year, even when our world is not right, we can STILL find JOY. (Joy ¡V a passion for expectation of good!) This year I am finding JOY in the re-telling of the Christ story of old with my grandchildren (whom I help homeschool.) I am finding JOY in spending time homeschooling! I am finding JOY in spending time with family members. I am finding JOY in ministering to my mother. I am finding JOY in ministering to those I meet on the street, yes, even just with a smile. I am finding JOY in calling the young mom who needs encouragement to share a Scripture and a prayer with her. I am finding JOY in spending time with a youth group who are on a quest to find the LORD. I am finding JOY in spending time with dear friends whose wife half of the couple has dementia. I am finding JOY in coming home, just to be with my husband. I am finding much JOY in my early morning time with the LORD!
The key for me has been to be intentional in finding, looking for,
seeking JOY, that passion that leads to expecting good to come!!! I
have found much JOY in the following Scripture:
JOY in that HE is our salvation! (Is. 61:10, Ps. 35:9, Ps. 21:1)
JOY in that regardless of what is happening in my life today, in
HIS presence, there is fullness of JOY! (Ps. 16:11)
JOY in that one day there will be everlasting JOY, and sorrow &
mourning will flee away! (Is. 51:10)
JOY in that He is my strength! (Neh. 8:10)
JOY in that HE defends me! (Ps. 5:11)
Let all those that put their trust in You rejoice, let them ever
shout for JOY, because You defend them, let them also that love Your name be joyful in You.
JOY in that HE promises JOY in the morning For His anger endures but a moment, in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Ps. 30:5)
JOY in that HE restores JOY! Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation. (Ps. 51:12)
JOY for me, can be summed up in the following Scripture:
Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. (Luke 2:10)
God had good tidings of GREAT JOY to deliver to ALL people! His name is
From Mary ...
What we are drinking...
We've expanded our repertoire to included some teas by Twinnings. I am usually not a huge fan of Earl Grey but I absolutely love this one. The Lady Grey (Love the name!) is also delicious...sort of a milder version of the Earl Grey.
And also ... I found some organic green tea on sale at Whole Foods and decided to give it a try. I was very pleased. It's quite smooth and mild. Very nice.
And finally, we are still enjoying our Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea ... it's a winner! Also, we're branching out and trying a Celestial Seasonings variety pack. The Sleepy Time is lovely and perfect for right before bed! ;-)
Have a lovely evening ...
I am so grateful to both Denise and Mary for sharing their thoughts and photos this week ... and a bit of themselves, as well. I am so glad to know you both and look forward to more weeks of tea together!
And my goodness, I've made you all wait to the very end of my (typically) long post, but I am happy to announce the winners of my book giveaways!
So without further ado ...
Nori Coleman has won A Miracle for St. Cecilia's,
JeNae has won The Christmas Shoes/Christmas Blessing duo!
Nori and JeNae - congratulations! I will be in touch soon to arrange mailing details. I hope you both enjoy these books (I know you will!).
And now I will wrap up at long last and thank you all for reading today. I hope your week is off to a good start, and that your evening is restful for you. Until we "speak" again ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... see you here again very soon!