I’m finally back online after several complications—another laptop crash (second motherboard this year) and either a cold or the flu. It’s out of my head and into my lungs now, which may not sound like an improvement but I can at least think…I think.
And here it is, Christmas Eve. The first Christmas Eve in ten years that I don’t have to work. I am completely thrilled to be planning on going to a service nearby and simply worship. I won’t have to worry about the normal things I worry about: Did anyone remember to put out the offering baskets? Are there enough candles? Who will be upset this year that we did/did not sing the traditional words to “Joy to the World.” (I’ve gotten complaints no matter which we sing, and not just from Garrison Keilor.)
It is a bit strange to be in California again: No snow. Palm trees. And the ubiquitous bad traffic and people asking for money at every turn. And yet, I feel festive. I’m wearing my favorite red sweater—the one that used to belong to a friend and makes me feel like he’s close by and not halfway around the world.
I’m thinking a lot about my son, who is trying to “launch” his independence and struggling in this crazy economy. He’s found a second job and shares one thing with the baby Jesus these days—he’s never quite sure he’ll find a place to lay his head. It’s hard to be away from him, and yet I’m proud of him as he grapples with hard realities and finds ways to cope. And yes, I hope this season softens hearts and opens doors in his life.
I’m enjoying city life, which is a surprise for this Iowa boy. The restaurant down the street is full of people picking up their holiday tamales. Our choices for celebrating tomorrow include a walk on the beach. Our loft is beautiful with lights and glittering (fake) snowflakes. There are packages under our little tree and a few surprises still hidden away to be revealed once Santa finds us. Though money is tight, it’s enough.
This Christmas will not be perfect, but life is good. We know people who are suffering and grieving, but we still feel the power of hope and peace and love. And even though the news is not all happy, there is a deep joy to be found under it all. A joy that comes from taking time to remember what really matters: the Light returns, Love gathers us together, and Hope is born here, among us—humbly, noticed by only a few. And when we notice, our spirits rejoice.