Monday, December 26, 2011

Reflecting on Christmas Morning 2011

It wasn't the Christmas I would have dreamed.

Instead it was the Christmas where the best of intentions collided with the reality of our countdown to departure, causing the days of December to hurtle forward like an out-of-control tumbleweed across a vast and open plain.

It was the Christmas of a tree without tinsel or lights. There were "Jesse tree" ornaments but no nightly stories were told. There were no carols on the darkened beach on Christmas Eve. There were no stockings on Christmas morning.

Instead, there were half-packed boxes and a busy momma with much too much craziness going on. There was hot, sticky weather and patience that quickly frayed around the edges. There was a broken-down van that after two months of labor was returned still broken on Christmas Eve. There were siblings at odd with siblings and a mommy whose frustration over the van situation spilled over in her voice so that a little three year old piped up, "Mommy, why you fighting with Daddy?" Finally there was a self-enforced timeout that led to the shedding of pent-up tears.

Yet somehow, in the midst of it all, there was still grace.

There was grace when on Christmas Eve we gathered around and the Christmas story was read. There was grace when I gazed at all five of my children side by side and realized it was only our second Christmas all together. When carols were sung on faded couches and favorite memories were shared along with hopes for the coming year ... When Daddy took five frantic kids to the beach Christmas Eve morning and when he played card games with them on Christmas Day... And when childish excitement seemed undimmed despite the seeming simplicity of this year, there was grace.

My heart was full when our daughter took time to write a sweet note just to say "I love you" ...

And when her baby brother grabbed on to join the hugging with the biggest of smiles on his face ...

When even the simple things brought cheers and gladness from little boys ...

And when new suitcases envisioned the promise of near-future plans.

Especially when I sat quietly and observed as five siblings played sweetly for long moments together, sharing with and helping one another in comfortable camaraderie, I realized I had been given a gift I did not deserve this Christmas.

First of all, the gift of family ... one that I love and that loves me, even when I am least loveable.

And most of all, the gift of faith ... one I remembered as I sat with my daughters in a softly-lit room and watched the story of the Baby's birth, in awe once again at God's incredible plan set into motion and celebrated each Christmas.

Thank you, Lord, for grace ... thank you, Lord, for Christmas.

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