And then I had some pretty darned good cinnamon rolls. Just so you don’t start saying Hail Mary’s for my for weight-loss plan, I’ve only had two rolls (not counting the ones around my waist…which are quickly outgrowing their “love handle” status to become a “love steering-wheel”). The rest are going to the Grubb household, whose generous invitation will make me not quite so alone on Christmas afternoon.
It struck me as I sat alone at the beginning of the Christmas service last night, that this season shouldn’t be so much about receiving as about being thankful. Not a novel concept, I realize, but it gained a new dimension last night as I watched a young family in front of me and, just for a moment, contemplated feeling sorry for myself. I came to these two conclusions about some fairly common complaints some of us feel at Christmas time.
1. I am fortunate–because though other families have young children to celebrate with, others are spending these holidays grieving the loss of children, the dismantling of marriages, and the transformation of love into disdain. I am childless, but my Christmas sadness is for something that didn’t
happen. It is not the much deeper grief of someone who has known the wonder of love, belonging, and parenthood only to have lost it. There are people even in this small BFA community who have lost children and spouses to disease or accidents, or who have suffered divorces and relational chasms between parents and children. How blessed I am to have been spared the losses those others are burdened with, and how they need our prayers–especially during this holiday season–as they simply try to “survive” a torturous time of year for them. My melancholy can be so petty……
2. I am fortunate–because though I didn’t wake up in New Hampshire with the rest of my family this morning, I did wake up knowing that I have a mom and brother out there, as well as countless other family members who are either linked to me through lineage or love. I have students like the one who called me with his wife, first thing this morning, to wish me a Merry Christmas (thank you, Grayson) and the one who sent my first Xanga greeting (thank you, Ahram). I have friends like Mari Ellen who take time out of the insanity of their own Christmases to send me an e-card. You all who are reading this are part of my extended family too, and I am blessed beyond belief and so, so grateful.
There is grief of course. The person in my family who loved Christmas most, I think, was my dad. So in honor of him, I played a Gaither album last night after gorging on burgers and cinnamon rolls, donned his favorite old Santa hat, and took a couple pictures. Hey–it’s what a missionary does on Christmas Eve, okay? Besides, posting embarrassing self-portraits seems to be a trend among high school and college students, and I’m running an experiment to see if an elderly lady like me can still pretend to be yound and self-absorbed. These are for you, Ner!