Friday, December 17, 2021

Dandelions in December

We were walking down the sidewalk just a few days ago, and I happened to look down. In the small patch of hard earth next to the cement stood bright yellow dandelions. Beautiful dandelions, shining forth in all of their unexpected beauty. Dandelions are a "flower" near and dear to my heart, and the sight of them on a December brought the same awe of surprise and delight as the first bright daffodils that peek through the ground each spring. There is much goodness in those unexpected gifts that fall in our path. 

"Encountering the unexpected" could perhaps be a good theme for this month; in ways large and small, I've come across many things I hadn't expected. Some sorrowful, some stressful, some gloriously wonderful, and some just plain weird. Like the Santa who drove a sedan. 

'tis the season for oversized ornaments! Not my favorite outdoor
decoration, to be honest, but they are attention-grabbing for sure!

As my kids and I walked down a street in our neighborhood the other day, we made for a rather conspicuous procession: a child in a stroller and two young kids in bikes, the frequent pausing as we read road signs together (#homeschooling). I noticed a bright blue car driving down the street, so I warned my kids and made sure that we were all on the side of the road together. I glanced over at the car and noticed the telltale red suit and synthetic white beard: Santa was driving in my neighborhood. 

The car rolled to a stop and the passenger window rolled down, to reveal and a woman on the older side of middle age. "Ho, ho, ho!" chortled the man in a deep voice as the woman passed candy canes through the window. We thanked them, "Santa" made a remark about how "I'll be at your house soon" (not creepy at all, right???) and went on our way. And I wondered at the irony that we teach our children to be wary around strangers (and never take candy from strangers in their cars), yet once the holiday season rolls around, we as a society happily place our babies on a stranger's lap and snap pictures as oversized "elves" pass around candy canes. Am I the only one who thinks this is a little odd??? Just one of my (many) unpopular holiday opinions. 

Although this experience was rather strange for my Scrooge-ish self, it brought a spring into my step. It was incredibly unexpected, and that alone brought excitement to our week. Earlier in the week, I had been having a really tough day. It was stressful and frustrating and exhausting on various ways, and I was extremely relieved when bedtime came and I could crawl under the covers and let the whole day slip behind me. The next day I woke up refreshed and with the resolve to put the irritations of the day before in the past and start anew. And that day was awesome. I had a few different, really good conversations with other people that presented some very unexpected (and really wonderful) moments. 

My kids loved climbing on this rolling-pin decoration. 

There is so much beauty in the unexpected. Even when the unexpected is hard and horrific and we want nothing to do with it, I'm astounded over and over again at the immense grace and blessings that God pours out in those situations. I really love being in control, but time after time, I'm discovering that when I let go of control and let God work, his incredible plan is far beyond anything I could dream up. 

As we move into these final days of Advent and prepare to celebrate Christmas, we're all experiencing different sensations. Some people are thrilled and can't wait, others can only think of all the things they still need to get done, other people are sorrowfully dwelling on the losses they've experienced. There are people experiencing every emotion in between all of these, or perhaps many of them all at once. Regardless of where you are, I want to encourage you to quiet your mind and heart for a moment and ask God to help you find his peace and presence in the unexpected events that will occur. And he will be there, for God works in unexpected ways. After all, what is more surprising than the King of Kings becoming incarnate in a backwoods town of Nazareth and being born in a stable in Bethlehem? 

These make me think of the faceless Amish dolls I played with as a kid,
though obviously not Amish, since they're in fancy clothes. And the more I think about it,
the more I realize these are giving me more of a Walking Dead vibe than that of holiday cheer. 


  1. So true! There is so much to behold in the unexpected, gifts from God we could have never imagined. I think motherhood is one huge journey of letting go of how we want our lives to look.. so hard sometimes but in turn, transformative and beautiful. I hope you have a blessed and joyful Christmas, AnneMarie! xo!

    1. Yes, that's very true-motherhood is very much a path of learning how to let go of pretty much anything, which is something I still am trying to learn! Thanks so much, Elisabeth-I hope that you have a Merry Christmas as well!!!