This Christmas was full of the older grandchildren coming and going. The difference between young-adult grandchildren and the grade-school grandchildren is that the older, college-age kids bring their boyfriends and girlfriends along. Our granddaughter, Caitlyn Mains, came before Christmas along with Jake Vogel, her steady. Then Landis Mains arrived at O’Hare at 5:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, having taken the red-eye from Phoenix. His girlfriend since high school, Caitlyn Bell, accompanied him.
I find it is important to me to put myself out when these kids come our way. What I am doing is warming a glow on their memories. This year, my adult children and I decided we wanted a quiet Christmas. But I made sure the Christmas table was set, the tubs and pots outside were filled with greens and winterberries, and the red Coleman lanterns were hung along the walk to the front door. I spent a mild afternoon (one that was supposed to receive the three to six inches of snow, but was 45 degrees instead!) making sure the wooden stars and more evergreens were arranged beside the mailbox across the street.
And I made sure the velour sheets (a luxurious sleeping experience, believe me) were on the guest-room bed, and that the plaid flannel sheets were on the twin bed in the spare room in the basement.
On Christmas Eve I served our traditional crab and cheese fondue.
Christmas dinner was English rib roast and Yorkshire puddings with brown gravy, white root vegetables—turnips and rutabagas and small white potatoes and round onions and parsnips—boiled slightly then browned in the oven.
After several leftover meals, all the remaining roast and vegetables were turned into a meat-and-potato hash and an egg-and-cheese strata. Delicious. The dirtied dishes, glass and silverware get washed and put right back on the table. Fortunately, I have enough cloth napkins to replace those that have been used. I’ve even discovered that Orange Greased Lightning removes the stains on the cream tablecloth. This way, we are ready for the next festive meal. The centerpiece stays on the table the whole month, and the work of setting the table after each meal is expedited—clear; wash; clean; dishes back on the placemats.
Why is this so important? A hallway table filled with the glass crystal collection. Greens in the pots. Wooden stars made from pallets by the mailbox. Red Coleman lanterns lit on the walks. It is important because beauty massages the rough places of the soul. Lights say, “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here.” The set table says, “We’re ready for you, and we’re glad you’ve come.” Velour sheets on the guest-room bed say, “Rest and be still. Sleep deeply.”
Well-cooked meals say, “Be fed. Nourish your body and your mind. Know that we care about your well-being. Be healthy and flourish.” When beauty is created and made available for the sake of others, it not only blesses, it is God-like. We are replicating His lavish, extravagant, gasp-inducing ways in the world. And we give it away, like He does, to the ones we love.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.