I went to visit the grandchildren last weekend. I got to watch Little Sister cheer at a basketball game. ("You know, that game where you try to throw a ball through the hoola hoop.") I heard the magnificent Christmas concert at church where Big Sister sings in the choir. I saw the Night of Lights in their neighborhood. And I stayed an extra night so that I could watch the preschool Christmas program. Little Sister was Mary in the play. Her line was, "It was a long journey. I didn't think we'd EVER get here!"
I got home late yesterday. It's pretty obvious at this point, that everything on my list is not going to get done. The ingredients for the party mix are sitting on the kitchen table where they have been waiting on me for days. Most of the gifts are wrapped, but not all of them. There are two stocking that are completely empty as of this minute.
So? Does it matter? Some of it does. (You know I can't have two people with empty stockings on Christmas morning.) Most of it won't matter at all, except to me.
Last year our Christmas took a turn of its own. Like so many people who find that there is no "jolly" in their "holly," ours was a little on the bleak side. Baby Girl was spending her first Christmas in the hospital in the midwest where they lived. Big Sister and Little Sister were here at the farm with us and Little Sister was crying for her mommy. Mommy was far away from the rest of her family at Christmas.
But we found that Christmas came anyway. So many people helped Mommy and Baby Girl have a special Christmas at the hospital. Strangers came with gifts. One family had experienced a similar Christmas years ago and made it their mission each year to bring a little cheer to sick children spending the holiday attached to tubes and monitors in the hospital. Nurses brought handmade gifts for each tiny patient—blankets, caps, pillows. The church family made sure that Mommy had a Christmas dinner. Meanwhile at the farm, Aunt Jessica made things fun for the older sisters, keeping them busy in the kitchen and wrapping gifts and playing games.
Mommy and J-Daddy, even before the hospital stay, had decided to skip a tree last year since they were all coming home for Christmas. They didn't want to leave a live tree to dry out for two weeks. So sweet Little Sister (who was 4 last Christmas) made a tree for her family. She found the little Charlie Brown tree whose single ornament had broken the year before. She decorated it with the baby's teething ring, one of her hair bows and wrapped a doll blanket around the base and put it in the corner where the tree usually sat.
Now, when I looked at the photo of this sad tree this week, I saw a reminder of last Christmas when things were not going so well. But Little Sister was hanging on my shoulder looking with me. When she saw this, she exclaimed, "Oh! That was a pretty tree. I remember that." I should take lessons from her.
Yes, Christmas did come last year. In its own way. In a way that was probably closer to the original Christmas. And it will come again this year for all of us, just like it has for two thousand years. In this last week as things seem to speed up, let us try to keep our focus on what's important. And remind ourselves that it's not about the decorations. It's not about the gifts. It's not about the food. It's about caring. And kindness. And friends. And family. And love.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us be the hands and feet of Christ to others. Just like those special people who brought Christmas to a hospital room last year. Just like a tiny child who found a way for her family to have a Christmas tree. Let us shine Christmas love on someone who needs it this year.