We can blame Jane ... or we can blame Charlotte ... but someone has to take the blame!
"My first aim will be to clean down (do you comprehend the full force of the expression?)—to clean down Moor House from chamber to cellar; my next to rub it up with bees-wax, oil, and an indefinite number of cloths, till it glitters again; my third, to arrange every chair, table, bed, carpet, with mathematical precision; afterwards I shall go near to ruin you in coals and peat to keep up good fires in every room; and lastly, the two days preceding that on which your sisters are expected will be devoted by Hannah and me to such a beating of eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, compounding of Christmas cakes, chopping up of materials for mince-pies, and solemnising of other culinary rites, as words can convey but an inadequate notion of to the uninitiated like you. My purpose, in short, is to have all things in an absolutely perfect state of readiness for Diana and Mary before next Thursday; and my ambition is to give them a beau-ideal of a welcome when they come.”
I don't know if Jane Eyre was the first character to spend the week leading up to Christmas cleaning and baking, but she has certainly left a legacy that many of us find almost impossible to live up to.
This past week I have cleaned but not exactly cleaned down as that would suggest a level of cleanliness that I have insufficient time to achieve. I did, however, make a beeswax and olive oil polish which my timber furniture thirstily consumed. (And which I plan to use more regularly from now on - as if that will happen!)
The only chopping and compounding I've engaged in was to make home made muesli and biscotti. As much as humanly possible - given the limitations of time and energy - everything has been made ready for a perfect welcome for my loved ones and I look forward to their arrival with excited anticipation.
So why do I suddenly feel down? It could be attributed to exhaustion, yet the feeling is all too familiar at this time of year and I know its roots go much deeper. I know I'm not alone in finding this particular season difficult.
At Christmas, I long to feel loved. For a variety of reasons, I often don't at this time of year. I wouldn't say that gift-giving is my love language, and even though I appreciate gifts, I'm not devastated but their absence (now when DH said he hadn't had time to buy for me was he serious or not? I never know with him.) No, the feelings of rejection and being unlovable have historical roots, and yet, as I thought about this today, I realised that Christmas time is when I should feel loved - completely, absolutely, perfectly.
Not because of any gifts I receive or because I get to spend it with my most awesome family (although that's definitely a bonus) but because Christmas is about the greatest love story of all time: God's love for mankind so great that He sent His Son - the babe in the manger - Son of God in human form - Who would save His people from their sins. Was there ever a greater love story told?
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.