I received one of the best gifts this Christmas. Time. Although the Cafe was open on Christmas Eve, I was not scheduled to work. For the first Christmas Eve in several years I did not have the shoulda, woulda, coulda voices singing carols in my ear. I spent this Advent on the bench, and Christmas Eve would be no different. Our busy blended-family “holiday time” did not need to be added to the roster of worship services or emergency calls. I did not have to be in multiple roles at the same time trying to be fully present in all of them. What a gift!
Now, don’t go thinking it was all Norman Rockwell meets Hallmark Movie. Of course it wasn’t. Like many other families, we drove over the river and through the woods to Grammy and Pop’s to open presents and savor snacks. This time was rushed and filled with the raucous joy of five children. Then, we drove over the river and through the woods to church. If you’ve driven a distance in the dark with children satisfied with dinner and packages, you know what happens. Sleep happens. Sleep. So, you can guess how delighted we all were to pile out of the car and into the pew. Not very.
As we squished into the pew, I remember breathing deeply and thinking…”so this is what it’s like…to juggle a blended family, visit, and slide into church on Christmas Eve.” I honestly don’t remember much about the service that evening. I simply remember the feeling of gratitude. Gratitude for time on the bench. Gratitude for how far we’ve come. Gratitude that God chose to enter this messy world in a family that defies stereotypes. And I knew Christ the Lord was being born again all around me.