It’s early Christmas morning, and the house is quiet. Everyone is still asleep. I’ve taken the dogs for their early morning walk – my Bella and “grand-dog” Lulu. I’m alone with a cup of coffee, my prayers and devotionals. In a little while my girls and my brother will get up, and we’ll have our Christmas morning together. The girls will be wearing their matching pajamas, which I surprised them with, giving us all a good laugh. Matching pajamas were a tradition every Christmas as they grew up, and it’s been awhile. I am so blessed to have this precious time with them together this year.
I needed some spiritual refreshment and was looking forward to going to Mass. But Christmas Eve Mass was a disappointment as holiday Masses usually are. A ridiculous number of people crowded the church, and we were forced into a small side room where you could neither see nor hear anything that was going on. Although it was annoying for us and all the regulars, I know God was probably glad to see everyone. Besides, maybe the extraordinary abundance was just family visiting family.
Three children of different ages took turns distracting us in the tiny room. A rambunctious four-year-old girl in the pew directly in front of us alternated between tormenting her older brother, stomping her feet, talking loudly and feigning anger. Her tired mother with sad eyes had no control over her. She seemed drained and seemed to have given up trying. An older couple was with them, I’m thinking her parents. Where is her husband? Is she divorced? Is he working the night shift or serving overseas? I’ll never know. Intermittently, a two-year-old girl in front of them squirmed and cried and rambled on loudly as her grandmother and parents doted on her without reprimanding her at all. She, in turn, was distracted by a newborn infant in the pew in front of her. “Yook, daddy, Yook,” she tells her father. “See the baby? I want a baby! Maybe Santa will bring me a baby tonight.” I couldn’t contain my laughter. I know God is probably getting a kick out of all of this.
My daughter Megan lays her head on my shoulder, and I lay my head on hers. We stay that way for a long time. Uncontrollable tears flow. Soon she’ll return to Florida where she lives. I miss her so much already that my heart is aching. I look over at my other daughter Katie who smiles at me. When did they become such mature young women? Wasn’t it only yesterday that they were those little girls in church?
Time passes much too quickly. I miss the days when they were little – when each Christmas morning was a magical time filled with so much excitement and wonder. Things have changed – life has altered. Time and distance have become a circumstance of life. But my family is with me today, and I am grateful. I am blessed with this precious present of all of us being together to celebrate the birth of a loving Savior who keeps us close in heart and soul.
To you and yours, Merry Christmas!