I have a long list of favorite December events -- Moravian lovefeasts, Old Salem, the Twin City Santa party, the Nutcracker, skiing, ice skating, the Mistletoe 5k, long runs through neighborhoods with lots of Christmas decorations...
In truth, this December has been a little bit rough... Last year, I just assumed that I would rest up, get better, and things would just get back on track, so the things I missed seemed temporary; I just kept pushing forward, fingers crossed, trying to hit the next.
But lately the letting go has felt more permanent.. I'm not just on a break from GOTR coaching, I can't even claim to be tangentially involved in downtown outreach.. Life has actually shifted.
It's okay to feel a little loss in the letting go, and grieving is an important process in accepting and moving forward with a chronic illness. But there are still plenty of things to appreciate this year, even if they are different, even if they sometimes seem small.
Small joys are not as small when you stop to revel in them. So I've been especially, intentionally focused on savoring all the small joys this season. Here are a few of 'my favorite things'...
My Favorite Warm Winter Accessories
Cozy Cashmere, Fuzzy Fleece.. There was a time when I first moved to Winston from Florida when I thought accessories were just for fun. It took many conversations that went something like: "My hands are so cold!" "Where are your mittens?!?!" " . . . . " to realize they were also functional. Add my favorite pair of boots, and winter is much much warmer.
With friends at Pan E Vino, which has become my new spot, since it's near my neck of the woods and quieter than Camino's or Starbucks... or with my favorite old movies... or sitting at the kitchen table watching the cold rain, and being warmed by my favorite fuzzy socks, and a gray cat... Coffee is contentment, in all sorts of settings. Even on bad days, there is still good coffee.
Christmas Tree Lots
With full branches and twinkle lights, that make gray rainy days seem green and magical. I love that there are so many spots around town that light up like this over the holidays. I only wish there was a January equivalent, for when things get really dreary.
Speaking of Twinkle Lights.. I love driving through downtown, with Christmas music on the radio, and picking out the Moravian stars and wreathes.. It's so uniquely Winston; a nod to our history. Somewhere there exists a streetlamp with the perfect view of downtown behind it, but I just haven't found it yet.
A Community of Faith
Choir and handbells have replaced running as the center of my schedule, and I have been blessed to have been given such a gift. Everyone, but especially those with an illness, should be so lucky to have a group that extends grace, offers support, and accepts me as I am, limits, flaws, and all. When I realized I had to pick one thing for Winston December, it was the choir concert, with no regrets.
A Great City
The city of 'Arts and Innovation' working hard to live up to it's name... I love living in a city big enough to hold the School of the Arts, Wake Forest, Innovation Quarter... and small enough to enjoy all of it. I love going downtown, and seeing tech startups, foodie restaurants, hipster bars, and art galleries...
...and knowing that it's a city that is also tackling the big issues. The Rescue Mission; Samaritan Inn; The Overflow Shelters; City With Dwellings... Great folks, reaching out to the most vulnerable. I miss being a part of this good work but my heart is warmed by knowing that it is being done, and that it is as much a priority as the bio-tech research and factory lofts just a few blocks away.
Blue Skies and Sunshine
Despite all the dreary pictures, we've actually been lucky to have a lot of sunshine and warm weather this year, with lots of chances to sit outside and soak up some Vitamin D. This picture is from early Autumn, but we've had far more of these blue-sky days than we deserve and I am so grateful for them!
A Florida Christmas
I admit I am not looking forward to the drive, and I usually feel a little wistful for a colder Christmas and my own church (and bed). But the homestead is in the Sunshine state, so the family will soon be traveling and gathering, with a black lab, decked halls, palm trees, a Moravian star on the porch, and Christmas Cats under the tree.
And it will be loud, and a little bit chaotic, and there will be arguments over the last piece of pie (or who may have stolen the last piece of pie), and we will lose track of the animals... and it will be a wonderful celebration with the growing clan.
God found me this year in so many unexpected ways. I am grateful for the grip that he has on my life, in spite of myself, and in spite of my circumstances.
I am hopeful that 2016 will bring healing, and opportunities to move and think and work the way I used to.
But this year was not without good, and in fact there was a lot of good. Not the least, the lesson for finding contentment in less, and reveling in small joys.