Major changes at work. The tragic death of a guy from my hometown. The Austin Sigg sentencing. Stress and uncertainty. Too many work dinners, not enough exercise. Men being straight-up disappointing. A puppy that barks from 4-7am. And a high of 20-freaking-degrees yesterday.

This week wasn’t my favorite.

Next week, the holiday season begins – which, in the past few years especially, has felt so horrendously sad. Who can celebrate when so much is wrong? How disingenuous can we be? Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is a cuss word. The weather outside is frightful, and I’m feeling rather spiteful. Follow me in merry measure, while the world kills all our pleasure. Faithful friends who are dear to us disappear to us once more. And will someone bring me some damn figgy pudding already?

The halcyon years are over. We know too much. And whenever the saccharine feels like overkill, I tend to overcompensate in the other direction – choosing the bitter over the sweet.

But, you know, I bought a pumpkin. And it’s still sitting in the middle of my dining room table, reminding me that this life is marked by seasons. While “autumn” makes me think of blazing colors, crisp air, and Anthropologie sweaters, “fall” feels like the beginning of deadness – the literal falling of what used to be so alive. And as I watch the world around me expire, trees stripped bare and everything left shivering, I remember that something has to die in order for something new to live.

So I’m trading in my pumpkin for my very first tiny Christmas tree. I have no tinsel, no lights. But I’m placing it on my mantle as a reminder of what is unchanging – an evergreen in the midst of transition – a sign that even when everything around is dying, some things are constant. And if we stick around long enough, something new is sure to begin.

After Thanksgiving, maybe I’ll start by hanging an ornament.


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  1. Michael on November 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    You are my soul sister…bless your heart. I have a poem around here somewhere I’ll send you when I find it. Please know you are loved…so much, by so many of us. So here’s to love, ageless and evergreen (he says from his soft easy chair).

  2. Greta on November 22, 2013 at 12:14 PM


    “‘I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
    2 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
    and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
    When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
    3 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
    I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
    4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you…'”
    Isaiah 43:2-4

  3. Zach on November 22, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    2012 was by far and away the worst year of my life. I spent Christmas through my birthday (12/27) in bed due to debilitating migraines and dizziness caused by the lasting effects of West Nile virus. Although not my preferred way to spend the holidays, it was an appropriately bitter summary of my life for the previous year. Part of me believed that was just the new normal.

    Fast forward to almost one year later, and not only are the symptoms alleviated, but I feel better than ever. In fact, things are firing on all cylinders unlike any point in my life. I do my best to not take this for granted, because I now know that the only consistent part of life is change.

    Here’s to a better December.

  4. Brit on November 22, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  5. Alissa on November 22, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    One of my favorite Earl Palmer encouragements is this: When we least feel like worshiping is when we most need to go to worship.

    The seasons and holidays feed the rhythm of life. When we aren’t “feeling” ready to embrace the holiday, it’s okay to go through the motions anyway. Whether we are feeling thankful or not, Thanksgiving arrives and we are confronted with the reminder to see all that we have in abundance. Maybe in gathering around a table or decorating that little tree, you’ll find the joy of the season creeping into your heart.

  6. Michael on November 22, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Oh come, oh come, Emanuel,
    Ransom my captive heart.

    I look for you in the lights.
    I see Santas and Reindeer,
    Snowmen and Tin Soldiers,
    Crosses and Stars and X-mas trees;
    Glowing white Mother and Child
    Ringed by plastic wise men.
    I cannot see you in the garish glare.

    Oh come, oh come, Emanuel,
    Pitch your tent within me.

    I listen for you in the sounds.
    I hear Carols and Classics,
    Ancient noels and Santa songs,
    Pop and Country and Celtic crooners;
    Straining has-been voices
    Sing old standards of the season.
    I cannot hear you in the brassy blare.

    Oh come, oh come, Emanuel,
    My soul thirsts for you.

    And yet I feel you in my voice
    As I take up the old familiar lay.
    And yet I feel you in my hands—
    Shoe boxes bound for broken children.
    And yet I feel you in my heart—
    Amazed at my own good fortune.
    And so I feel you, with me.

    Oh come, oh come, Emanuel,
    Fill me with your glad Noel,
    That I may sing anew your song:

    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emanuel
    has come to you (and me)!

    Mike & Dana Rhyne
    Christmas, 1995

    Love you, Annie

  7. Monica on November 22, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    I think your halcyon years are yet to come. The childlike version of childhood is smashed. Mine too. The present is painful but the future is hopeful. The last three years have been the hardest of my life too. The future will look different because relationships have changed, people have changed, circumstances have changed (my relationships with my three sisters went from close and cordial to tense and silent). I think of another period of my life where everything looked dark and dreary and hopeless and there was something very good just around the corner.

    I love to read what you write.

  8. mom on November 22, 2013 at 7:13 PM

    I love to read what you write, too. I was laughing OUT LOUD to hear that the cuss word is here to stay! You are so clever, and so honest. And, it was in reading this post that it hit me….the words to the verse of Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.
    “Israel’s strength and consolation
    Hope of all the earth Thou art
    Dear desire of every nation
    Joy of every longing heart”
    The darkness which is ever present around us needs to spur a greater longing in me for deliverance. People walking in darkness are invited to see a great light.
    And it is a light that the darkness will never extinguish.
    Happy Advent….I’ll make you a paper chain if you are really nice to me!! And I’m looking for recipes for figgie pudding right now! Love you tons.

  9. Hilary on November 22, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    And you shall have a single poinsettia delivered by one impish and joyful child, who is very good at finding the goodness in the simple or even the mundane.

    The good days are not gone, my friend. I’m sure of it.

  10. Janelle from Canada on November 22, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    This hits home (death, men, seasons)… This weekend my American friend, I am especially thankful for you… My new phrase is, “Shine the light to illuminate the path for those in darkness.” I don’t always feel the light or want to be positive but somehow I keep going. Thank you for your constant vulnerability, winning smile and big heart.

  11. Pamela on November 23, 2013 at 12:15 AM

    I want you to meet my friend. I really really do.

  12. Becca G on November 24, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    Oh girl, this gives me much hope as we enter into the Advent season. I like your new versions of Christmas carols by the way…may have to adopt some of those lyrics myself.

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