Christmas Day came and went yesterday amid a great flurry of tissue, wrapping paper and ribbon. There was the usual chaos created by the usual suspects, and in the midst of mind-numbing confusion, we all agreed it was, hands down, the sweetest Christmas in memory. There was no effort or expectation of perfection. Some gifts didn't have a prayer of being wrapped, and the girls even had to help me stuff their stockings, which hung by the chimney without an ounce of care. Dennis was all nestled in his recliner under a beautiful hand-made throw that seemed to invite all the grandkids to crawl under with him. His diminished body mass meant there would be plenty of room for each kid.
We ate sugar plums (that is a total lie included merely to give an air of holiday ambiance) and we put on funny Santa hats and sang carols (that is the total truth included because it actually happened.) And then, when the day ended, and all the wee folk had nestled in front of their new WII games, Erin and Brodi came over for a quiet visit. It was just the four of us, and for some reason, Dennis could not stop grinning. We knew it was a grin and not a grimace because it did not have accompanying muffled harsh language. (He went to West High, too.)
Dennis' sister, Janie, had given us a jar of pre-mixed muffin batter, and when we had figured out just what the concoction was, we had to figure out just what to do with it. Brodi suggested spooning the mixture into a muffin tin, and Erin suggested we turn on the oven, if we could find it. We weren't sure what temperature to select, or how long to cook them. So after what seemed like an appropriate time, we removed the muffins from the oven. They still seemed a little batter-y, but that made little difference. We simply slurped them directly from the tin to our mouths. They were delicious, and we didn't even have to add butter or jam. OK, there is something to be said for adding all the ingredients to the mix. And, in addition, I think there might have even been something included that had nutritive value. This was a good night.
As we sat around the kitchen bar, we reminisced about some of the things that have taken place on this journey we are experiencing. As we tried to take it all in, we were overwhelmed by miracles that have occurred daily during the dark days that preceded the winter solstice. We cannot begin to comprehend the whole significance, but I'm not sure that is expected. It is greater than our minds can wrap themselves around. But there is no mistaking that something remarkable is present and we would be remiss not to recognize that.
I have a picture that profoundly expresses a little of what we are feeling right now. There is a river so full of crocodiles that they resemble a great swarm just prior to a feeding frenzy. And the caption beneath reads, "The only way out is through." We do not pretend that we alone can negotiate that river. We are going through, and we will come out, but it is with a great deal of assistance and a whole lot of life boats.
Last week when Dennis had been taken in for his surgical procedure, it was very dark and cold and lonely and early in the morning at the Huntsman Institute. When I went into the ladies' room, I was a little surprised to find another human being in the place. There was a young woman sobbing out loud in tremendous anguish and despair. She apologized between gasps, and said, "This is so hard. I don't think I can do this." I didn't ask any questions. What I said was, "I am so sorry you have to go through this." I hugged her and said, "I will pray for you." What I wanted to say was, "Come with me and I'll take you to people who will wipe your tears as they embrace you. They will feed you, warm you, sing to you, and make you laugh. They will bind your wounds, wash your feet and minister to you. They will hold you up as you carry your burden. They will give you hope. And you will be able to do what is being asked of you."
The wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wisest men bring love. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom and love, and for showing us just what this holy event really signifies.