My dad has never really cooked.
And while I cook a lot, I never made the yearly Christmas treats. That was always Mom’s joy, to load up a Christmas table with a veritable feast of goodies. But this year I thought to myself, Dad will miss them if no one makes them. So I cranked out a really unfathomable amount of sausage balls and peanut butter balls, and stuffed them in Tupperware for the Christmas trip home…
…where my dad, unbeknownst to me, had thought to himself, My daughter will miss the treats if no one makes them. And so he cranked out a really unfathomable amount of sausage balls and peanut butter balls.
When I arrived and we all proudly displayed our Christmas treats, we all laughed until we cried. And I may never eat a peanut butter ball again.
But that sums up the holiday. Imperfect, awkward, but warm. Good in its measure, and strange in its measure, and most of all very full of love and kindhearted service, family members finding their steps in a new dance.
The world is broken, and reformed, through love.
And I’ll admit that the strangeness of this new world has worn on me a bit. I’m tired. Thanks to mom’s absence and the bomb cyclone, we missed Christmas Eve service this year. And on Christmas Eve night, after the festivities at home, I found myself in bed, cranky and teary-eyed.
Normally every year we go to church and we have a wonderful service and it’s reflective and inspiring and joyful. And normally every year everyone I love is there and we all light candles together. Normally this year I am reflecting on Christ, not standing with a tiny Christmas tree at my mother’s grave.
At the end of the litany of woes I apologized. This isn’t a Christmas that has been very Christ-centered.
But then God reminded me that it had been Christ-centered: more slanted to love and service and small acts of sacrifice than any other I have had. In the jokes and hugs, in the tremendous amounts of treats, in my dad’s attempts to decorate his house for the first time, in my uncle’s attempt to persevere through burning a ham, by the graveside, in my efforts to help dad organize the home chaos, in all our trying, trying, trying.
I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll help. Let’s love each other as best we can.
It was imperfect. It was love. And Christ in His perfect love is present in each moment.