'Tis the season!

Have you ever gotten sick- say with a stomach bug or flu- and suddenly realized how much you had been taking your health for granted? Find yourself throwing up in the toilet bowl, thinking of all the things you could have been doing with your day if you weren't too weak to get off the bathroom floor? Curl up in bed, shivering with fever, wondering why when you were healthy you weren't absolutely skipping through each day, singing the praises of good health and capability?

I certainly have! It's a lesson that I recently re-learned when I was mostly couch-ridden in November from the pain of my progesterone shots. Suddenly the most basic tasks became huge chores and my standards for parenting, housekeeping, and everything else were significantly lowered. I temporarily went from thriving to surviving. It was only for a short time and I had lots of help from my husband and friends so I had no reason to complain about my situation, but it did renew in me a zest for living! I spent a lot of time marveling at people who live with chronic pain and became sharply aware of how much I take for granted.

(I also spent a lot of time wishing I had deep cleaned my house before I was stuck on the couch.)

Now that I'm back to my usual self and the Christmas season is upon us, I've determined to not lose sight of that lesson and to carpe diem every day. Okay maybe not seize every day-let's not go overboard- but certainly seize the season! Though I am certainly sad that I am not pregnant this Christmas like I dreamed I would be, I am so grateful to have my health, my family, and my faith for the holidays. I'm determined to enjoy all three this season!

John, Arie, and I welcomed the season like most families: by trimming our tree! Arie is such a fun little boy to do this kind of stuff with! As John and I brought boxes of ornaments and decorations up from the basement, Arie's body bounced up and down, hands clenched, little squeals of delight escaping from his lips. John and I watch his reaction and grin at each other, marveling at our little boy and wondering how we got so lucky to be his parents.

I love the ritual of re-discovering our special ornaments. Our tree tells a fuller, longer story each year as our marriage- and we- grow older. We hang the kitschy penguin John and I bought on our honeymoon in Niagara Falls almost seven years ago; it's hollow stomach holds a black and white engagement picture, one my dad took in 2006. There are six metal brown stars in a box from The Pottery Barn; I remember how excited I was to receive a gift card to this expensive store in the first year of our marriage. I picked those stars and an adorable silver twig-like reindeer that sits on our hall table. They are still my favorite pieces of Christmas decor! On our tree we also hand an ornament that looked like a Tim Horton's coffee cup (a tribute to my homeland!), a red owl that I bought as Arie's "first Christmas" ornament, and two "Burden Family" ornaments with the year we became a family marked in celebration: 2012. They always make me smile.

This year we hung a few snowflakes on our tree as well: one impressed with to pairs of tiny baby figurative baby feet, given to us by our church in memory of the two embryos we lost last month. We also hung two big, beautiful, sparkling snowflakes that John bought me a few weeks ago: a symbol of the two embryos we have waiting, frozen, and the hope and prayers we offer for them this Christmas.

When we were done, I took a moment to admire our work and my heart is flooded with the hope I feel each Christmas.

My sweet reverie was soon interrupted by a soft crunching sound. I found our cat Jasper under the tree, chewing on the branches! I shouted at him to "get out of there" and Arie joined me, delighted by both the permission to yell while inside and to be "in charge" of someone for once in his life... even if it is the cat! Yesterday the bottom fifth of the lights on our tree went out. I'm really hoping our cat didn't chew through a wire. (I promise to check it: fire safety and all.)

Next on my "seize the season!" list was a walk in a winter wonderland. Saturday morning proved the perfect opportunity to enjoy a winter hike since our sun finally showed itself after a long week of hiding.

We took off to a wooded trail, relishing the sound of crunch snow underfoot (me), picking up sticks and acorns along the way (Arie), and even sighting a woodpecker high above (John)!

Finally, we got a head-start on our holiday baking. We are hosting my family for Christmas this year (yay!) and with that full house for three or four days (eight adults, one child, a cat, and my dog-nephew) I anticipate chomping through our fair share of cookies. Arie and I spend an afternoon in the kitchen mixing and baking three dozen each of sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies. Turns out Arie is actually pretty good with a rolling pin! Our goodies are packaged up and waiting in the freezer for a later December date.

On Sunday we began our advent activities (we're doing the Jesse Tree this year and- of course- a chocolate calendar!). Still waiting on our list is a Santa Breakfast at Arie's preschool, a car ride with hot chocolate to see Christmas lights, wrapping all our gifts (already purchased- yay!), mailing Christmas cards, and enjoying a Christmas ballet with John's mom. Seizing the season!

Did you get your tree up yet? What festive events or traditions are you looking forward to?

Happy, hopeful advent to you.



  1. What a lovely post! I love the photo of your kitty peeking out from under the tree - he's so cute! Even if he did chomp on a few branches... ;o)

    1. Haha he is pretty cute! I guess he's lucky to be so adorable because he can get away with branch chewing ;-)


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