This has been the weirdest Christmas I can ever remember. First of all, most everyone in the house has had SOME form of illness since the first of December. My over achieving highschooler had a record number of practices, performances and even preformed at the nursing home for points towards her Bata Club volunteer hours. Mom went to spend time with my sister in California from before Thanksgiving until December 22nd. And I started a new part-time job that was far more demanding then I thought it would be, but I really like it. All of this added up to me dropping some of my more traditional balls I am afraid. Christmas snuck up on me like the Grinch on Whoville.
I limped through our annual Outlaw Christmas Party with a lot of help and understanding party guests. I feel like I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted with my two extra sons who came to town. I had 5 days to clean up and prepare for my mom, sister, brother in law, sis’s service dog AND service dog in training to join our family complete with all 6 human members, 4 dogs, 3 cats, one sugar glider and my mom’s dog and cat we babysat while she was in California…if you are keeping score that was a total of 9 humans. 7 dogs, 4 cats and a sugar glider all under ONE roof…and NO fights broke out!!
Now, back to whose traditional balls. My tree got up, not well fluffed, not all the lights worked, 3 ornaments, and the wonderful new garland I got was half way on (thanks to my beloved chosen brother who is a professional florist) he left the rest for me to do (I never did…sorry Darrell!). The fixing for Christmas cookies are still in the grocery bag I brought them home in. Presents were joyfully wrapped in wal-mart bags, Christmas dinner was cooked at 5pm and was homemade chicken nuggets, creamed potatoes and canned black eyed peas, no dessert, no cornbread or rolls. Charles and I took everyone’s stocking to our room, stuffed them and came out and passed them out. Between stockings and opening gifts Christmas was done in 15 minutes. WOW. Brandon left for work at FedEx, Mom, Tracy and Barry went to bed, and the girls ran off for the late showing of The Hobbit. Blink… and it was gone.
Christmas Day itself was interesting as well. With the threat of snowy weather, Mom, Tracy and Barry, 3 dogs and a cat headed for Mississippi, to try and make it by the cemetery to see Dad’s headstone (that was placed while Mom was in California) before dark. We had offered to help our friend out and supply dinner for Room in the Inn ministry which provides shelter for the night for those without shelter. So at 4pm, in the freezing rain we loaded 2 pans of dressing, 20 lbs of baked chicken breasts, 2 pans of garlic green beans, and rolls into the Yukon and all 6 of the Waters clan headed for the other side of town. We got there with time to make gravy, warm the food and to meet everyone. Then the guests arrived, and you could tell everyone was so very glad to be inside, warm, and with a meal to eat. So in a small, old fellowship hall, 20 people, some guests, some volunteers, all sat down and ate all they could hold (so much that the pies had to wait til later) listened to Christmas music played on a Smartphone in a glass dish (for amplification purposes) and we served as God’s presence to those we would never have met otherwise. It was wonderful, it didn’t last much longer than our 15 minute Christmas the night before, but somehow it felt much more like Christmas. NOW…the lesson about God’s grace…God showed up for Christmas this year loud and clear, not in the traditional, Martha Stewart, everything perfect way God didn’t seem to care about my half-assed attempt at holiday cheer, but we saw God’s grace in forgiving us for thinking THAT was more the focus of the season than the time we took to share our Christmas meal with others and to bring for a few minutes a small room full of peace of earth and good will towards our fellow humans.