Christmas Eve couldn’t have been better.
Well, actually, it started with Bonita vomiting at 4:30 in the morning, but when she woke at 8 she was completely fine.
I turned on some Christmas tunes and we transformed our purple-draped Advent tree into a beautiful, white, silver, and gold – with a hint of purple – Christmas tree.
We made it to Mass just in time to get a seat, thanks to Sister Barbara. Of course, twenty minutes early isn’t nearly enough to get good seats, so our pew was in the very front row, where half the congregation had full view of all the misdeeds my children might perform. Perhaps they were well-behaved because they felt conspicuous; perhaps because they got a better view of all the goings-in; or perhaps it was to stay on the “nice” list. Either way, I’m extremely grateful for the lack of fighting, whining, and fit-throwing!
After Mass, we went to my sister’s home to celebrate a tradition she started several years ago – a birthday party for Jesus, complete with birthday song and cake. We ate the cake on her “Twelve Days of Christmas” plates, and sang a rousing rendition of that song as well, each of us according to our plate. Bonita and I were the “partridge in a pear tree”, and my two oldest nephews exuberantly sang “Five gold rings,” pointedly off-key.
As usual, it was a late night – nearly eleven before we were home. Once the kids were in bed, Ray and I got down to the business of gift-wrapping and stocking preparation. I thought I was on top of things this year, but apparently I was wrong, as we were up until after two.
The next morning, we continued a family tradition of praying a special prayer at the top of the stairs – before Santa’s bountiful treasures could create a distraction. Then we lovingly carried Baby Jesus down the stairs and placed him in his manger.
Following on such a wonderful Advent and a joyous Christmas Eve, this would surely be an equally wonderful, Spirit-filled Christmas Day, right?
Alas, this Christmas day was proof that we can never take anything for granted. On the way home from my parents’ house Christmas night, I realized that it didn’t feel the least bit like Christmas. It seems that, as the day progressed, we had moved further and further away from that moment of prayer shared before opening gifts.
We got caught up in the busy-ness of the day: getting the house straightened and brunch made; visiting with Ray’s brother, wife, and daughter; rushing almost immediately after to my parents’ house for family Christmas there; the craziness of eleven children opening presents; chatting with family; worrying that Ray would lose our vacation money in his blackjack game. Somewhere in all that busy-ness, we left the true meaning of Christmas where he lay in his manger. Sadly, other than standard “grace” with the children, we even forgot to pray before the evening’s casual Christmas dinner.
Fortunately, there isn’t really just one day of Christmas… there are twelve! OK, we can’t recapture the magic of Christmas day, but this year especially, I’m very happy to get eleven “do-overs”.
Eleven more days to play Christmas music.
Eleven more days to enjoy the Christmas tree.
Eleven more days to leave the lights blinking on the front of the house.
Eleven more days to revel in the glory of God with Us,
God who saves,
God himself humbled,
God made man.
“And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Prince of Peace.”
Thank you, God, for do-overs.