december nineteenth

Thinking about joy

We hear this word a lot during this time of year: Joy. Joy to the world, “Joyeux Noel,” all that. I’m fairly certain that joy was not invented by the Hallmark Corporation, but you don’t often hear someone admitting to feeling joyous these days. It’s almost as though joy has gone out of style.

It’s OK to feel joy on one’s wedding day, or at the birth of a baby…but just during the week, on a regular weekday? Seems a bit overdone, maybe.

Except that most folks, when you mention feeling joy, will have a look cross their faces–they’ve felt it, too. That expression on their face, brief, perhaps, or lasting a few moments, says that joy is something much more common that we usually admit.

I’ve felt it. And still do feel it, short glimpses perhaps, rather than full-on, turn-up-the-volume joy attacks. Joy is there. But it’s tough to write about. It’s easier to write about sadness than joy. Why is that, I wonder? It is simply more acceptable to be sad these days than joyful? Is joy less “PC” than sadness?

Joy for me lately hasn’t been a pure emotion; maybe that is part of why it is so hard to put into words. It’s usually mixed up with other things. I go outside to walk the dog, look around at the falling snow, the interlacements of the branches overhead, the cheery red bows of decorations showing out from under white patches, and I feel joy at the beauty, joy at the experience of seeing snow and trees and colour and life…but of course, the sadness of feeling as though I can’t leave here even though I want to.

Today was like that, actually. All day, a mixture of sad and joy. What a strange thing it is to be human.


It was a pretty simple day, really. We turned on the Christmas music channel, and opened up the gingerbread house kit we’d bought at the craft store.

After reading the instructions (which, by the way, would have made the IKEA man blush with pride), we mixed up the icing and got started.

It turns out that you have to let the icing harden inbetween each step. For an hour after the first bit is done. And then for three hours after the roof goes on.

"Press and hold roof sections for several minutes until icing hardens enough to hold roof in place."

After that, you ice the roof (with appropriate quality checks by Dusty, of course)…

And then you wait until THAT is dry…another hour or so.

That’s how things look right now. We thought this was going to be a one-day Amish barn-raising party, not a multi-day contractor’s dream of endless hours waiting for the spackle to dry.

While We Waited

Since we had unexpected time on our hands while the icing dried, we did other holiday things, such as decorate the tree with actual ornaments.

I love my dinosaur ornament!

Nicholas put the star on the tree, and did the traditional crawling-around-under-the-branches stint to make our 1960’s tinsel star light up.

He’d like to point out that he thinks his hairstyle is very Dr. Who #10 right there.

We also baked a traditional Canadian treat called Butter Tarts, just because we had a boxed mix and wanted to try it. (Good enough.) And ate dinner. And watched two episodes of Torchwood. Plus I knitted on his secret gift and he did some work.

And we talked. There were sad family memories mixed in with chasing the cats away from the oh-so-tasty ornaments; and there was the odd fun-but-scary feeling of having to come up with Something Wonderful To Do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. (What if we FAIL at Christmas? Oh NOooooooooo!!)

Soo…you know how it feels when you are really, really hungry for cake, and you decide to bake a cake…and you mix it up and put it in the oven…and then you have to wait. Once you close that oven door, your work is done, there’s nothing you can do to hurry things along. No matter how hungry you are for that delicious cake, You Just Have To Wait. There’s the fun of planning the frosting, the happiness of imagining sharing the cake with family and friends, perhaps, and the pleasure of knowing you’ve baked something wonderful. But…you’re waiting. And waiting is hard.

Nicholas and I are waiting for the cake to bake.

Aaannd the gingerbread house isn’t done yet. To be continued…

Today’s Random Good

from Alaska Dept. of Fish & Wildlife website

Scientific information from the biologists at the Alaska Department of Fish & Wildlife about Santa’s Reindeer (R.t. saintnicolas magicalus), including population, home range, food, and subspecies differentiation.

Oh, and Bonus Good: Do you know the story of how Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer came to be?

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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12 Responses to december nineteenth

  1. Suzanne says:

    I know it’s not Christmas Day or Boxing Day, but the Uptown Knit Mob is meeting this Thursday in Uptown Waterloo (go figure), and you and yours are welcome to join us if you’d like to have some knitty/thinky company. Not all of us are Canadians, and only a couple of from anywhere local.

    It’s usually just a low key time eating and chatting about anything and everything, and the high point of my week!

  2. Naomi says:

    I love your dinosaur ornament, too.

  3. CR says:

    2WW? Been there… with you in spirit 🙂

  4. Pat says:

    I’ve been enjoying your daily posts. It sounds like a great day! Advent is all about waiting… waiting for the promise, so if the gingerbread house survives your cats it should be great! Peace!

  5. Rachel says:

    “something wonderful to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day”

    Christmas Eve: cuddling with someone you love in front of a fire?

    Christmas Day: sleeping in (cuddling with someone you love), treating yourselves to foods you would not normally allow yourselves to eat, opening presents together……

  6. georg says:

    Joy is transient – a pure moment for a treasured memory. Joy is a basset waddling faster to come see you on his walk. Joy is a snowflake melting on your eyelashes. Joy is a hug from someone you haven’t seen in too long. Joy is that purr against your neck. Joy is simply holding the hand of the one you love, and that look of love in their eyes.

    But sadness and bitterness – this stick in your craw and prevent you from seeing the Joy in things. It steals the moment away from you and continues to grip you, until you make the effort to let it go. Sadness is an old brown blanket one wrapped around oneself to keep out the rest of the cold world. The horrid thing is that blanket is occasionally metaphorical and harder to lay aside.

    As for your Christmas, your Yule, there is no wrong way to do it. It’s your family and time to look to what traditions you want to have. New jammies and brekkie in bed? Why not? Going out for a long walk in the snow to look for deer tracks? Feel free. Watching football and drinking beer? That’s okay too. Do what brings you joy – hold onto traditions from your past if you wish, but make something new that’s just for You. Find your piece of Joy for the holiday.


  7. Mardi says:

    What Georg said. She’s good, isn’t she??

    I had some joy today, watching the irrepressible conductor bouncing on his toes and practically bursting as he led and encouraged the young choristers behind us in their first Messiah. They did a phenomenal job. But joy is very elusive, which is why it is so precious.

    And dearest, wisest Wiseheart – there is no way on this green earth that you could possibly fail at Christmas, even if you did nothing at all. You would spend the day with those you love and they would spend it with you. No fail there.

  8. GinkgoKnits says:

    Is that why hipsters are so sullen? Joy isn’t cool? No wonder I’m not one. Your cats seem willing to provide Xmas highjinks if you think you’re in for a dull holiday. I have a hard time believing a couple that enjoys Dr. Who hair jokes is incapable of creating a wonderful Christmas. I’m looking forward to the Christmas special actually being available in the US instead waiting months for it!

  9. InJuneau says:

    I LOVE that you linked to the AK F&G site for reindeer info!

  10. sarah says:

    To me, Joy is different. Joy is what I felt once on a flower-covered mountainside in the Rockies when, for an instant that lasted an eternity, I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that I was part of the world, the earth, the universe. It was, I think the classic religious experience brought on by inadvertent meditation 🙂

    The everyday wonders are just that: moments (or afternoons, or days) of wonder, happiness, contentment. An amazing Scottish midsummer not-sunset. Lazy winter weekend afternoons in front of the fire, spinning, drinking hot chocolate and watching stupid films. Sinking into a hot pool after a day of post-holing through spring snow. I try to store these in memory to bring sparks of light and warmth to future bleak dark days, but the memory of Joy is unforgettable.

  11. NancyN says:

    What Sarah said.

    My unforgettable moment of joy was the first time I saw a glacier up close.

  12. Rachel says:

    you’ve made me think about joy — and how often (or not) I’ve felt it.

    One thing I’ve realized is that there is one person in the world who brings me absolute joy every time and every moment. From the day he was born and I saw his tiny face through today — my nephew has captured my heart and brought me joy.

    Joy is not a constant, but those moments when we feel it are the greatest gift we can have

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