It is the zenith of Christmas season, and at times I feel like I have been see-sawing an emotional pendulum of sadness and joy. Christmas is a time I most try to keep an equilibrium, because I want for my family to experience good feelings and memories from this time. I also think there is more than a little of the childhood "Better be good, Better not cry, I'm tellin' you why, 'Santa Claus is coming to town'"

Yes, there is probably a lot of that old habitual thinking. Which isn't a bad thing, really. We ought to try to think of other's happiness far more than we do, and we always ought to at least try to behave well most of the time.

Yet, that will not stop the disappointments and tragedies from happening, and we must deal with that at some point, in some way.

I think that the reason I seesaw back to joy, in spite of losses or genuine sorrows, is the difference I have come to understand about joy and merriment. If I dig deeply into the place where joy is found, the possibility of being merry in the moment is possible. Manufactured merriment, which is sort of a mad giddiness, is not something desirable. And it is that which grates so horribly at Christmas season. That false face of material gluttony plus self-willed entitlement that is promoted as the joy of Christmas; when really nothing could be further from the quiet joy that comes from peace with God, oneself, and one's fellow man.

Joy can bring merriment, but rarely do efforts at merriment make a dent in true sorrow.

For a very long time I made a line between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as though they were two very different holidays, but the older I grow the more I see that thankfulness of spirit prepares the heart for joy. It certainly paves the way for peace.

As a person who gardens throughout my year, I do believe that many of the best lessons on life, loss, joy, cycles, overcoming, and many others are gained in the garden. Nature is a constant source of allegory. It speaks to me when my ears are stopped to every other voice, it seems.

Its beauty can provide joy, when all else seems to have crushed my soul.

Truly, God walks in my garden, and He finds ways to impart messages that build me with His wisdom, that reassure me that there is beauty from ashes.

So, yes, some lessons are very sad, they weigh me down with their harsh realities. But if I allow it, there are places where I find that those same lessons hold promise, goodness, hope. I find mercies, joy, and sometimes even a merry heart.

Enjoy the good things of this Christmas season, share it with those you love, look forward to a spring of a new year, allow winter its time and place, but don't forget to light your candles. I guess that is my Christmas advice and observation.

Today I have a Christmas perspective: God's love shines into our darkness. It is often unexpected in its power to light up what we believed had gone dark forever. Yet, we keep expecting ... somehow. I am thankful for the lessons, the light, the strength that it gives me. I am thankful that there are people to love, opportunities to work and serve, and chances, new chances, for life to survive and thrive.

I hope everyone has as merry a Christmas as I do expect to experience. Christmas in the soul.
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And yes, my Christmas roses bloomed beautifully again this year!
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© 2012 written for Ilona's Garden Journal by Ilona E. An excellent blog.

About Ilona Erwin

Blogging since 2003, writing about a lifelong love of gardening since 1998, I am now surprised to find myself extending into photography and creating digital art! I find it hard to pick a favorite plant or style, I love them all.
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Kylee Baumle said...

Ilona, this message you bring resonates with me so much this year. I'm not sure why exactly. Thanks for expressing this, making me feel like I'm not alone in this.

And I HAVE to get some of those hellebores. I've got some, but none bloom this early. Those are gorgeous. Are they a specific cultivar?

Merry Christmas to you.

Ilona E said...

They are Helleborus Gold Collection 'Jacob'. They have bloomed early after taking a couple years to settle in, and now are truly "Christmas" hellebores. Planted on the leeward side of the house, they have a bit of protection.

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