And I'm ever so glad it is!!
By the time Christmas had blown in and out and the ball had dropped and all the plans for the new year were put in place, the only thing I wanted in the whole world was for Christmas around the house to be gone!!
Really strange, actually, because when those same decorations came out last year, my heart melted over them. I sat charmed and dreamy on the sofa, looking at twinkling lights, antique paper chains, and wreaths stuffed with all matter of natural materials.
This year, it just never felt right. Tree too big. Antique paper chain getting a little shabby, gaunt garland several years past needing replacing. Pieces falling out of the wreath. It all seemed tired and spent and secondhand from the moment the boxes were cracked open.
Christmas was fine. Christmas was good. It's just that I felt rushed and the house felt incomplete and the people that came for Christmas were Christmas-ed out upon arrival, after having already had 4 Christmases with various sides of their own families to attend. And they tried, they really did. But, actually, if you've already had Christmas 4 times and everyone has wanted it to be the absolute fun-est day of your life and the nights get longer and the desserts get richer, when you get to Christmas #5, you just might be yawning and you just might have your eyes glazed over and you just might be not quite so perky.
It's not their fault. It's not my fault. It's just life. And life doesn't always look like we want it to.
Some Christmases are charming and fresh and warm and your heart hurts and your toes tingle and you find yourself floating around with scraps of overplayed Christmas songs humming through your head. And other Christmases just feel a little . . . flat.
I'm learning to be okay with that. That there can be a quiet kind of contentment, even in a Christmas that is a little less than . . . in every way. There are bigger pictures, deeper fulfillments.
So, it was with a little too much gusto that we lit a fire, put on Peppermint Winter, stripped those trees bare and unceremoniously yanked off the garlands.
And while children dismantled (the decor that is!!), I heated up a skillet and got to work on hot Spiced Apples, to complete the comforting feeling of clean floors, order, and fresh starts.
Tart, thick wedges of very green Granny Smith apples, butter browning in the pan, and heavy sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg. Okay . . . there's sugar in there too!!
And then as those apples gave in and yielded themselves to the caramel-y buttery-ness, the house filled up with smells that could fool you into thinking a juicy pie is baking.
The storage boxes were eventually filled. The wood floor strewn thickly with Frasier fir, swept. Furniture scooted back into its familiar places.
The feeling of a fresh start hanging in the air . . . along with the heady scent of apples and spices.
And I'm reminded that the joy of life isn't in the perfection of a dreamy Christmas but rather in the never-changing faithfulness of my Father. His mercies new every day. His provision complete.
And if the year starts with a delicious plate of Spiced Apples too . . .well, all the better!
1/4 cup butter
6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 3 pounds)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Melt butter in large skilled over medium high heat. Add apples and remaining ingredients. Saute' 15 to 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Serves 6