Mattman did the last of his three big tests on Saturday morning. This was a huge blessing! An end to many months of hard work on everyone's part. He wanted to go to Pizza Express for lunch afterwards, which happily lives in Belfast's very swish and lovely Victoria Square.
Christmas Starters it said on the menu, though I only realised this after I had taken the picture. It did however strike me as nicely appropriate on the first weekend in Advent. Starting to think about something that has been hidden from view by many other big issues in our Strawberry land lately.
So I am more than usually happy to be Pausing in Advent. I really didn't expect to be thinking positively about Christmas at all this year. Mum so stricken by challenge, Dad needing to be so brave and independent, Mattman studying so hard, life just so busy, the house so chaotic, time so squeezed.
Something wholly unexpected occurred though. Burst from the dark sky in the midst of mundane sheep guarding and illuminated the landscape. Not only, to quote the Grinch, "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store." But also maybe Christmas doesn't even mean family. If I believe that Christmas means Jesus, means God incarnated, means peace, hope, joy and love, then maybe that's what I have to try to live. Christmas standing immutable, regardless of everyone's circumstances or my feelings or how many lights we string around the tree. Every day.
These thoughts are my Christmas Starters this year. And if I'm going to quote Dr Seuss, then you'll know I have to quote Jostein Gaarder:
"I can't see why a little lambkin should be in such a hurry."
The angel helped her to her feet and said confidentially, "It's going to Bethlehem."
Elizabet had stopped crying, "To Bethlehem?"
"Yes. To Bethlehem, to Bethlehem! For that's where Jesus was born."
Elisabet was very surprised at what the angel said...
"Then I want to go to Bethlehem," she said.