How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Recently, Katie from Cakes, Teas, and Dreams listed this quote and blogged about her daily routine, its everyday ordinariness, and the comfort this brings. When partnered with Emily P. Freeman’s clarion call to simplicity, over the past few days I’ve payed more attention to this sacred echo and the quiet moments that bring balance and order to my life in this season of Advent.
The alarm goes off around 6:00 a.m. and I am usually the first to fully awaken. These mornings when the Earth tilts the farthest away from the Sun mean a few extra moments to lay in bed and by the light of my phone check the day’s weather, e-mail, Instagram, blogs, and read in Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman.
Shortly thereafter I putter around to feed Sylvester, turn on indoor Christmas lights, and return back to bed for a few last warm cuddles with The Optometrist and the kitty before returning to the kitchen to make us a quick breakfast.
Entering the kitchen heat from the vent warms my feet as I tap the iPod speaker to play Christmas music while I gather smoothie ingredients. It is most often a banana, ice, peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla & coconut extract, and almond milk (from Cooking Classy). Over the weekend I bake a dozen muffins, enough to last us the week, so I also pop two in the microwave with a little pat of butter to round out our breakfast (this orange cranberry muffin recipe is our current go-to, seasonal favorite). Before heading out the door The Optometrist and I usually incorporate a bit of reading aloud – the day’s Jesus Calling devotional and/or J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Two Towers.
As I arrive on campus, I greet our student workers and staff before heading upstairs to my office and turning on my lamps and M&M Christmas lights. The library is busy with students studying for finals, but at this point they no longer require research assistance, so I relish the quiet refuge of my office. At the end of the semester e-mails are less assailing than they have been, but mornings usually mean catch-up time from what’s arrived since the night before. It’s also imperative I login to Blackboard to check for straggling assignments I need to score so students will have a better idea of their final grade.
Living in a small community means having only a 5-10 drive to and from work, which is convenient for going home to eat lunch. Most of the time this means we reheat leftovers and squeeze in a few moments to watch clips on YouTube via our Chrome Cast: Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, or Rhett & Link.
Sometimes we ride together, sometimes we grab a quick bite to eat at a nearby Chinese or pizza buffet, and sometimes we fly solo – especially on Thursdays when I often attend a lunchtime yoga class downtown, taught by my favorite teacher Mindy.
Returning to campus, I often have afternoon meetings and/or follow-up to-dos from committee work that needs to be addressed before the university closes for Christmas break or shortly after we reopen in January. This is also a prime time to clean accumulated clutter and organize files in my library office before the end of the calendar year.
I don my handknits to stay warm in my car as a local radio station plays Christmas music and I return home to the inviting glow of our exterior Christmas lights, already on thanks to a pre-set timer.
On nights when we have a scheduled music/civic/church event, it’s kibble for kitty and a quick dinner reheat for us before we grab jackets, gloves, and scarves and head out once more. Lately Tuesday evening has been my night to meet up with friends to knit and chat at a local coffee shop and Wednesday evenings find us both at church, rehearsing Christmas choral arrangements for upcoming services.
But the best nights are the ones when we are able to stay home and cook together – especially soup or something else hearty and comforting that can take temporary residence on our Christmas china. As we eat with tea light candles lit around us we debrief about our respective days, mention conversations shared with colleagues, and update one another on upcoming plans that might have adjusted.
The hours after dinner are typically filled with a rotation of playing music together, watching a Christmas movie or something on Netflix (Broadchurch and The Great British Baking Show are two current favorites), gaming (him), knitting or reading (me), a cup of herbal tea (both), and a few text messages exchanged with my parents before bedtime.
Then before another day dawns I often read aloud from Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien, we ask one another, “What are three good things that happened to you today?,” and offer up a prayer of supplication and gratitude to Emmanuel, God with us.
These rhythms of life are grounding, are they not? Despite the hustle of the season, I hope you too are taking time to seek quiet, holy moments. Feel free to share your Advent routine in the comments below.