1) Christmas is coming!
Being on the road to Advent, we wait with excitement for the coming of Christ. It’s easy to skip over Advent and jump straight to Christmas. While the wait and anticipation is important, we also want to prepare in the form of gift giving. What gift do you give to the person who has everything, or a person who doesn’t need more “stuff?” The gift of presence and service is needed now more than ever. In this time where we must be physically apart, might someone on your list appreciate a phone call? Might you send a card or letter telling someone how much you mean to them and maybe, I don’t know, 25 things you love about them? It’s the intangible gifts that we remember the most. Think about that as you’re shopping this year.
2) Lemon bars
Citrus season is upon us. My favorite deserts are either lemon-based or chocolate-based, but I do lean toward all things lemon. I recently made these with a friend and they turned out a little goopy but delicious. If you have big enough lemons, you don’t need 6, 4 will do. These are delightful with coffee.
3) The Testaments
After a long journey of picking up this book, putting it back down, and then picking it up again, I finished Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. Picking up 16 or so years where the book left off, including a little bit of plot development from the series on Hulu (Atwood was consulted in its development), the reader gets some resolution on Aunt Lydia, Baby Nicole, and the fate of Gilead.
4) Hillbilly Elegy
I haven’t met someone who has read this book and not had an opinion about it. For some, the book is their first look into poverty and violence in Appalachia. For others, it’s an unwanted social commentary that demands that the poor just stop being poor and lazy. Netflix recently released a movie version starring Amy Adams and Glenn Close, conveniently leaving out the author’s socioeconomic views. If you’re looking for a more compassionate and balanced look into Appalachia, this Vulture article has alternatives of what to read, watch, and listen to instead of Hillbilly Elegy.
5) Longest Night
I tend to write about the winter solstice every year, but I feel it’s important to take the time again to write about how Longest Night services (also called “Blue Christmas”) help those who struggle during the holiday season. If you’ve lost a loved one recently, suffer with seasonal depression, or are overwhelmed with living in a global pandemic, this kind of service helps you acknowledge those feelings, allow yourself to be seen, and move on to hope. If your congregation isn’t hosting a service this year, many are available to attend online through a Google search.