The children are nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads….
Or something like that. They are snug in their beds, anyway, and are hopefully fast asleep – Santa still needs to do his thing. In the meantime, I wanted to get this posted before Christmas 2006 becomes a memory.
We had a few minutes left at the end of our adult Sunday School lesson this morning, so I opened things up and invited everyone to share their favorite Christmas memory or tradition. Silence. I quickly gathered that everyone was feeling the same this-is-Christmas-eve-morning-and-I’m-sitting-here-in-church-which-is-where-I-know-I-am-supposed-to-be-but-I-still-have-presents-to-finish-wrapping-and-cards-to-send-and-relatives-to-visit-and-the-kids-have-really-been-getting-on-my-nerves-and-I’m-not-sure-how-in-the-world-I’m-going-to-be-able-to-get-everything-done-ho-ho-ho that I was feeling.
I took another tack.
“How about your biggest Christmas peeve?” Several started to answer at once. As people started to talk, their answers were all variations on a theme. Overbooked. Overcommitted. Overwhelmed. Too many people to see, too many things to do, too many boxes to check off on an overlong list. Several with family in town mentioned how wearisome it can be to trundle the kids back and forth from one relative’s house to another. One couple each had parents who had divorced and remarried, in the process doubling the number of grandparents/step-grandparents who expected their own “Christmas” time with the grandkids. Another couple had so many out-of-town relatives coming in for the holidays that they had rented the vacant house across the street to house them. Another recounted a Christmas past in which a toddler nephew had a stomach virus and should have been at home in bed but instead was followed around all Christmas day with a bucket in case his stomach let loose. Why couldn’t they have just stayed home? Each story was met with knowing, empathetic nods and affirmations.
The only ones in the room who hadn’t contributed to the discussion were a Chinese couple who had been in the U.S. for several years for graduate study. Their family remained thousands of miles away in China. Then, in her halting English, she spoke. “Can I say something before we close? What I want to say is, enjoy it – all of the relatives. Because we can’t.”
Once again, silence. Whatever insights I had tried to impart during the 45-minute lesson were quickly (and rightly) forgotten. The real lesson for the morning had just been given in those three sentences.
Merry Christmas to all. Enjoy it.