Christmas is different when your kids get older...instead of staying up late wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, you tell them goodnight and hope you wake up early enough to make sure Santa has done his job before they wake up. Even after they're older, you still want to play the game.
We shared Mass with a church-full of people last night - many I didn't recognize. Were they all visiting? Or were they the kind who only attend church on Christmas and Easter? It doesn't matter - I know from experience that even a visit here and there can touch your heart.
We watched movies with the kids after Mass and stayed up late...therefore we slept late...but not as late as our kids. Tommy got up relatively early because he's puppy-sitting his girlfriend's dog Josie - I don't mind...I couldn't ask for a sweeter "grandpuppy". So he, Tom and I ate breakfast together...a huge breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast we only have three times a year...on Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day.
Daniel and Kendall finally woke up (with a little help from Tommy and Josie) but no one was in a hurry to open presents. Tom, Tommy, Josie, Max and I went for a walk - Max doesn't know what to think of Josie, a Rottwieler/terrier mix...she's a little tornado, running and spinning in circles around him. He's smitten.
It has been a beautiful day...full of sunshine and blue skies. We didn't buy many presents, so I spent the day in the kitchen, trying to fulfill wishes...baking a turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, broccoli cheese casserole...all the things they asked for, but so out of character for me. I have cooked more in the last month than I have in two years! The boys were wonderful...Tommy chopped veggies for me, Daniel hung around ready to do whatever I needed, from sauteing celery and onion to playing a quick game of ping-pong before it got too dark...one of the things I'd hoped for for Christmas.
Dinner was traditional turkey and dressing, on my rarely used wedding china and crystal, followed by pumpkin pie and everyone crowded on a couch downstairs to watch the new Star Trek movie.
Tommy slipped out early to visit with his longtime friend Graham...we took over watching Josie for him, so she ended up on the couch with us for a little while. We figured it was our job to spoil her just a little more.
It's time for bed, but I glanced at Facebook just to check up on all my "people" and came across this note by my cousin Joanna, which I thought was a wonderful reminder for all of us about what Christmas is all about; we are all angels if we choose to be...
"Now I don't claim to be a writer but I am a thinker. I have family members who are writers, my daughter Ashley and my very talented cousin Barbara.
But I do want to share an interesting thing that happened yesterday on the way home from my parents. We stopped at a new little country store in Buna, Tx. I am recovering from bronchitis and not feeling a 100 % and truth be known, blue from having to leave my parents home on christmas eve to go back to work. Anyways the family went in the store, I stayed in the van with the grandson. I guess I must have looked sad, sick or something because I looked up to catch a man's eye. He mouthed Merry Christmas, I smiled and mouthed back Merry Christmas. He smiled and mouthed Its going to be okay, and pointed to the sky and smiled the most perfect smile that lit his whole face up. Well I smiled backed and thanked him. That perfect stranger made my day so much brighter and reminded me that Jesus is the reason for this season. Not presents, nor not getting to spend the day of Christmas with my parents, but because of his birth and everything his life became. I get so bogged down in silly things that I forget that reason ALOT!! Well I never claim to be perfect.
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and I hope this new year brings happiness and healing to all those who need it. This past year has been really hard and trying on alot of friends and family members. I will continue to write down my thoughts, so bear with me, because I am a thinker not a writer... "
I beg to differ on the "writer" part...and to think I used to babysit this girl...! Her note reminded me of this quote I read in Catholic Digest magazine...
"I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses." - Taylor Caldwell, American writer
We are not alone because Jesus is God but he was also a man...he experienced what we experience...friendship, family, love...loss, disappointment, loneliness...there is nothing we can feel that he hasn't already experienced himself.
No matter what we feel, he understands. That's almost the best Christmas gift ever. Merry Christmas, everyone!