She cried when I told her the Christmas decorations were coming down that morning. Not the “no fair” kind of whiny cry like when I tell her she can’t watch another show or eat cookies for breakfast. This was the kind of cry that shows up when saying goodbye. I saw it once when we had to leave her puppy at the boarder for our family vacation, when the playdate came to an end and the friend had to leave, and of course each and every time we say all those goodbyes to all those family members we see along the epic Christmas Midwestern tour. This girl hates goodbyes.
And that day she was extremely sad to say goodbye to Christmas.
I did not cry. I am usually ready for a change. But as I packed away the decorations all neat and tidy in their boxes I sensed some melancholy too. This advent season was magical. Not perfect by any stretch but definitely filled with moments of magic. Starting each morning with coffee in hand reading by the light of the Christmas tree. Ending the day with the glow of the advent wreath. The soundtrack of carols requested each afternoon as we wound down the day, and the little voices that echoed the songs while we drove around town. The simple expressions of joy and merry and brightness popping up in each corner of our home. All physical reminders of the light and hope and joy of this advent season. Children at Christmas time bring such pleasant admonition of what makes all the process of advent totally and completely worth it.
And now they were all gathered together waiting to sit out the rest of the year on their shelf in the storage unit. I was feeling a little bit sad for them, and maybe for us.
Our home doesn't look like this anymore. In January we beg for clean and clear. But eventually all that minimalism, when compared to the can’t-be-overlooked merriment of Christmas, it all begins to feel just a little bit ordinary.
In the liturgical church year, in fact, we call these days the Ordinary Days. What a sad name for the days between Epiphany and Lent. Not hopeful and light filled like Advent. Not contemplative and repenting like Lent. Just the Ordinary days.
Or are they?
I recently read Emily P. Freeman’s book called Simply Tuesday. In this book she invites the readers to find the joy and beauty in the small moments of life. She discusses this idea of Ordinary Days on the liturgical calendar, but in further study, learns “Ordinary” comes from the word “Ordinal” which means to count.
Suddenly Ordinary takes on a whole new meaning. These days aren’t the sad state of doldrums as their name implies. In fact, these ordinary days count. They matter. They are important in the adding up of one day to the next. They count just as much as the bright days of advent or the intentional days of lent. These days filled with ordinary day to day tasks, some fun, some not as much fun, some memorable and some you hope to forget, they all still count in the great story of your life.
So in these Ordinary days, in the transition from CHRISTMAS!!!!!! to january (whomp whomp), I decided there might be little ways to keep some of the magic around as gentle reminders of how to make these days a little more special.
When the advent wreath was put away, I kept around a couple of candle stick holder and added these fun rainbow candles. We light them at the dinner table and suddenly that frozen broccoli and reheated pizza makes this dinner seem extra ordinary.
I loved my mantel this year. The Joy sign and the felted ball garland with its pop of color expressed to the new visitor that the people who live here are fun and full of joy. I decided the stockings and greenery could go but the rest should stay. I want my home to tell that story. The people who live in this house have fun!
Also, I’m always pleasantly surprised at how quickly turning on the music at the end of the day can make those witching hours seem like a party. Even Caroline is getting into the spirit. “You know what we need?” she asked one evening as the light was fading and dinner needed to be made but there was a certain whining jellyfish attached to me making it impossible to even move. “Some music!” She was right. The cling-on left my hip and started dancing with his sister. Christmas music is festive, but music at any time can set the mood. I’m going to be more intentional about finding great playlists for such an occasion.
Finally, sometimes the best way to bring back that Christmas spirit is to reminisce. Which is why I filled this post with memories of my home in its advent days of bright and merry, to look back on when the ordinary days might not seem so bright and merry.
While Christmas has come and gone, as it always does, the tears are dry and we are looking forward to the ordinary days ahead of us.
I would love to hear how you bring a little of the Christmas magic to your ordinary days!