It's Christmas morning. I'm actually writing a live blog post. I was just going to write, "and not a creature was stirring" but I think I just heard Jane getting out of bed upstairs. At any rate, it is a peaceful winter morning, and I think my heart has actually been warmed a little bit. Another festivus miracle, perhaps.
Yesterday, Christmas Eve, was not such a good day. I went to work as on any other Monday. But I hated being there. I hated everything that I had to do. I hated the preparations I had to make for the service that night that I doubted many people would show up for and that I knew not many were interested in helping with. I was upset because my parents had been planning to drive out and spend Christmas day with us, but then because of the weather they decided not to. I wasn't upset with them, but with myself for moving away from "home" some 17 years ago, because they shouldn't have to travel on Christmas day, WE should be going to see them. I felt bad that they have one daughter who lives in Minnesota - who will be spending Christmas alone - and one son who lives in Indiana - who will be spending Christmas with his family - and they will be stuck in Illinois spending Christmas with just the two of them. So all of that working together made me leave the office in the middle of the afternoon mad at the world and wishing I had never went into this business that I'm in. Wondering why I ever drug my family away from our home. And I really didn't know if I could even make it to the Christmas Eve service that I'd just planned out. Of course the wife was busy making all the preparations for the kids to arrive and the big Christmas dinner and everything. So I sat in the basement feeling like I was going to bawl at any moment, and finally nodded off a little.
At some point I got a text message from a friend - a friend who isn't a part of our church; isn't a part of my past; but a good friend who I don't really know very well but I think we know each other quite well regardless - and he was wishing me a merry Christmas. And things started to change.
Our Christmas Eve service started at 7 pm, so Jane and I headed out to the church around 5:45. We needed to run through the songs, and light the candles, and make some last-minute preparations. I do kind of like being in our sanctuary at night by candlelight. And then.... then our grand-daughter arrived. And she ran in the doors of the church and ran straight for grandpa and gave me a big hug. You know, it doesn't get any better than that. Merry Christmas to me!
Anyway, people started arriving for the service around 6:45-6:50. And they kept coming, and coming, and coming. I ended up making more programs (even though we would have had 1 left). I still don't know how many people were there - maybe 100. I know for most people in my position that isn't much, but for me it was like a million. I did not want to have this service, because I didn't think anyone would show up this year. But there were regulars who were there that I didn't think would be, and there were people I hadn't seen in a long time who were there, and there were new people there, and there were people I have no idea who they are who were there. So we had a nice crowd for a change. I know it's not about numbers, but you know, sometimes it's just nice to have a nice crowd.
So I began by reading from Beuchner's "Doubter's Dictionary" about Advent. While I was reading there were a bunch of little children being... little children... and I thought it was perfect. So we laughed, and I continued reading, and then we sang some Christmas Carols. I also read Luke 2:1-20 from The Message, and then we did this Reader's Theatre thing "Unto Us Is Born." We actually had 11 different readers (even though we didn't get to 11 until minutes before the service started). There was a nice variety of people who read, and everyone read PERFECTLY. Then we gathered in a circle lining the sanctuary walls, lit our candles from the Christ-candle and then one another's, and sang Silent Night. It wasn't a very polished or professional service, but, dang, it was kind of nice.
Although maybe the best part was after the service was over. As people filed into the hallway and left, there was a group of young people with kids still up in the sanctuary. They were taking pictures of the kids, and the kids were just running all over the sanctuary having the time of their lives. I don't think there is anything more enjoyable to me than watching a bunch of kids run around the sanctuary having the time of their lives. So they started helping me blow out candles. Then one of them asked if they could have the microphone. Of course. She sang a couple songs, then her brother sang a couple songs; then my grand-daughter took the microphone, and SHE sang! It was the sweetest thing in the entire world. She doesn't know words, but she sang nonetheless. And this Christmas Eve turned out to be pretty darn nice.
We finally got the mic from Anna, and made our way back to town. The Feipels came over to our house and we had some food, and played with the kids, and Christmas Eve ended so much better than it started.
So now the wife and I are sitting here in the basement of our home, waiting for the text message telling us we can go to the Feipel house and see the grand-kids, and then waiting for the son to make his way north. It's Christmas day, and I don't know what it holds, but I feel a whole lot better today than I did yesterday.
Merry Christmas to anyone reading here. It's time to get on with it.