Hello, there! It's been a few days...
When last we chatted, it was Nicholas' birthday. After that, there was a giant party for my side of the family. I'm a little scarce on pictures there. There was no scarcity of food or laughter, though. If you want to guarantee good food and happy laughter at any gathering, invite my sister. I promise you will eat well and smile often.
The next night, Mike's family gathered with us. More food. More laughter. And quiet corners of tears freely falling. In the end, we all knew that Christmas still came. And there is comfort and joy in that alone.
Then it was Christmas Eve. We went to Mass locally, in our little mission in the high school auditorium. They were short on altar servers and Stephen and Nick volunteered. I admit I missed our annual pilgrimage to the basilica downtown. But there were dear friends to wish a "Merry Christmas," we had a whole row of seats to ourselves right up front, the homily was excellent, the children's choir pretty adorable, and, well, it was home. (I'm hoping to get to the basilica this week, though; I just need to inhale there.)
We buy our children each one gift for Christmas. It's been that way for 12 years. At least that's the theory. Then, they draw names and buy a gift for one of their siblings. Four of our children have younger siblings as godchildren. They buy gifts for them as well. This Christmas, I noticed that there appears to be a bit of a competition happening in the sibling gift department. They're trying to outdo each other in "generosity" and boy howdy is there some wrangling to be dubbed "Best Godparent." If I let myself not worry about philosophical underpinnings of Christmas Materialism, it's all pretty funny...
Christmas day was very mellow. There was early morning message trading with a dear young man who wonders if this Christmas is his last. There was extended quiet and prayer before our house awakened. A hot chocolate bar, two hearty breakfast casseroles, leftovers throughout the day, a nap. All good. There's a big soccer tournament in Florida this week. Several of my men departed for that Christmas night. Maybe I cried just a little.
For the last six weeks or so, I've looked to these Twelve Days of Christmas to truly rest and reflect and regroup. Then, I figured on some planning and preparing for the year ahead. We began first thing Thursday morning with a little emergency root canal thingie. At least its aftermath provided for an excellent drug-induced nap.
This morning finds me much less swollen and not too terribly sore, looking forward to some days of quiet merriment. Very quiet. There will be Audible and fabric and bath salts and yarn, lots of yarn.
From our family to yours, I pray all your Christmas days will be filled with peace and tenderness and gentle joy.