Monday, December 04, 2006

Taking a Toll of the Bell Choir

Well, actually we aren't the tolling kind of Bell Choir, - we are an English Handbell Choir. Nonetheless, we are wondering for whom the bell tolls as illness "takes its toll" and we have had to cancel all the Christmas events we planned and practised for.

We made this decision tonight, and I was caught in a mix of emotions. Sympathy for those who are ill; a little sadness for those who have looked forward to our concerts at this special time of year; but also a small and secret sigh of relief as I struggle with efforts to simplify Christmas celebrations.

This is not an easy thing to do! I yearn for a quiet December in which to prepare for The Birthday. It would be nice to recognize Advent for what it is, - a time of quietness and reflection, and yes, preparation. But not the frenzied preparation we seem to start earlier and earlier. Not the demands on our time and our budget that we inevitably seem to yield to.

Even the loving preparations, - the baking, the shopping, the plans for gift giving and for entertaining family and friends, the Christmas letters, the bazaars and the Christmas bake sales and teas...they all take their Toll (there we are, back to that word again)

However, this will be my 61st year as a wife and mother - she who is responsible for all the Christmas traditions and the aforementioned busyness. I scan my Christmas cook books for easy and simple ways to cut down, and all the traditional baking recipes jump off the page and pull at my sleeve. (or is that my heart)? How can we do without butter or mince tarts, - or lemon curd and shortbread. What about hard sauce and toasted almonds, and sausage rolls and oyster stew!!!!

And not put up a Christmas tree, or all the treasured wreaths and ornaments from years gone by?

It is a dilemna - one that calls for stern discipline and an unemotional approach.

Not sure I'm up to it!