Christmas Traditions and the Need for Adaptations
Disappointment came last night in a lack of meaningful Christmas Eve traditions. My own fault in not making these happen for my family. Personally, I desperately wanted some “Oh Holy Night,” in a candle lit service, and words from a favorite Pastor I have grown to love. Words of love, of God and of Christ “now in flesh appearing.” This did not happen. As the evening wore on into Christmas Day, I realized the importance of making Chirstmas happen as Christ would. Christmas requires action.
While an important Christmas tradition did not happen formally, calculatingly, it did happen accidentally, in part in driving to places of requirement. First in driving home.
From behind the wheel, homeward bound, I strained to catch a glimpse of Mountain Life Church across a Light Brite snowy fleece thrown country side. Sulking to myself, I tried to triangulate intersecting coordinates in an attempt to locate. Thought I almost saw the stained wood frame, high loft ceiling church. Brawny I-beams looking out and down on humble people. Rafters raised in praise and holding up cast eyes, wide glass windows open spacing a mountain home outlook.
I continued driving, introspecting, occasionally swerving in my imagined Advent Conspiracy toward holyness. In and out of lanes and thoughts of finding passion for Christ and compassion for people. In Nature, God’s outdoor cathedral. I traveled on.
I tried to drive more smoothly along, between the lines, with less deviance, but wanting to feel moved. Hoping to see a thousand lit and flickering candles through those windows. So many homes. So many windows. Where was it?
Seeking something out of reach, but still hungry for it. An elusive Christmas star amid Heavenly chorus. A familiar band of worshipers swaying. Void of Santa hats. Candles lighting warm haloed faces like sacred art hanging on gallery walls. Rembrants and rememberances of Jesus in a manger and on a cross. Mother and child. Rocking The Word. Warming souls. Emmanual, God with us. Coffee and glazed donuts. In gazing and seeing such, I sent my own silent, joyous strain toward a very lovely scene….at least it was in my mind and heart.
What I didn’t have, I created. This is sometimes empowering, inspiring. Sometimes a falicy. I think sometimes I indulge too much in these delusions. I wonder if they are even close to reality. They feel good. They suit the writing form…..but
Then reality hits home. A sheet of ice supplies a kind of different answer to my longing. Not answered on the freeway. No. We make it home safely to an icy drive way. Mid day, in full sun this was most treacherous. I nearly slipped on arctic steps heading out to romp. Then again now in the dark. Spinning out on the ice. Need to broadcast some salt out here.
I was pulling Pearl up the small rise and into the garage. A slight delay, pause, in rolling over a snowy bump where gravel and concrete interface. Then I heard a strange spinning and grinding noise.
Commented to Mark, “See. There’s that noise. Something is not right.”
I am concerned that my perfectly freshly pressed car is broken. Worried that I have easily fallen into love with something with an inherent flaw. This is inconceivable. Most of the time she is so silent, composed and contained that I cannot even hear her purr. Like a quiet kitten heart. Often wouldn’t know if her engine was on and running unless I checked the panel and guages for convincing lights aglow. Wouldn’t know unless I put my hand on her warm side. So, when she speaks, I listen without mistake.
“That’s your all wheel drive engaging. If you knew how to pull up the drive way, it wouldn’t do that,” he joked.
It didn’t feel funny though after already too much backseat driving, and not getting my Christmas wish. I think I should have let him drive home. Treated him to this thing. At least given him a spare key. I tried not to let this thing trigger me. Instead sought a metaphore, in redirecting to future writing. Slowing to less speech. Silence is even a better strategy in avoiding confrontation.
In my mental redirect I visualize Pearl, on all fours carrying me, and me clinging to her shaggy back much like a Luck Dragon in my own remake of Never Ending Story. A luck dragon that looks kind of like my over-sized pup, Boozer, earlier today. All tongue and tail, and robust body, happily slip slidding on all fours across the driveway.
In this natural disaster, my beloved, anxious, patient pet came running to me. Jubilant, taking every other hazard in stride in four-wheel driving each step with four large paws. Amazing adaptations genetically gifted to him by muts and by God. He likely doesn’t even know this thing, but is using his adaptations no doubt. He happily adapts with no complaint. I love this thing. Covet this skill.
I am reminded of other adaptations in the natural, animal, and human made world. Briefly think on secular Christmas, and how I’ve asked our girls to adapt. The family on the hill whose barn burned yesterday will undoubtedly learn to adapt in caring for animals differently now. Their barn, mangers, stalls, gone. No room for a bed….. a roof, a wall. Soggy ashes. All up in flames and down in soggy ruin from a thoughtless mistake. Sad.
“Come on, let’s go!” says Mark.
He can see I am not dressed as I had promised. He waits for me. He adapts.
I am proud of my husband. For his long suffering and patience with me. Also for his service and generousity. His middle of the night ambulance and fire responses. His adapting for the greater good of human kind.
His little red Colorado truck is loaded with more than twenty bales of hay. A small fraction of the hundreds he hauled by himself last summer until our aged, eight-year-old neighbor came to our aid. I was just the driver. The scribe of a story they dictated.
Amazing men I think. Either of these men would shrug this off as “nothing,” or “a “thing of little consequence.” Not true though as we would soon see.
So we headed up the hill to the home where the barn burned yesterday with a load of hay for some hungry sheep and horses. To a little flock of surviving hens and ducks and geese. To take a gander at the burn sight and check on a bunch of home schooled kids and weeping new mother. Not so young, sleep deprived and overcome with gratitude. Blubbering in between huggings.
“I was so worried,” she wept coming toward us without a coat, barely in crocs, and sporting a silver cross necklace. I have seen this before.
“I didn’t know where we would get hay,” she confessed in near hysterics. “My husband is all laid up with the knee surgery, and I have this new special needs adopted baby,” and “Thank you soooo much.”
Not such a small thing to her I think.
Again, I am so fortune to be the lucky recipient of so many heartfelt hugs. And these hugs feeling extra special. I had the best job here. While Mark was the hay provider, hauler, feeder…..I got to be the hug receiver. Listener. Responder. Thank you God.
I mostly listen.
Eventually I ask, “How did your night go? I wondered if you managed much sleep.”
She confessed to being up many times with the baby and another young child worried about smouldering hay. This exchange felt familiar as if between friends and family, not strangers. She hugs me again, pressing her necklace into my winter coat. This is certainly Christmas in the making….and no mistaking…….added blessings for everyone.
“I am convinced in the power of prayer,” I add. “God answers prayers,” I tell her. She holds me on and on.
We unload the hay. Chat and explore solutions to providing water supply for the animals in the absence of power supply to a heated water trough, and a frozen farm hydrant. The family will be hauling water for perhaps a week to come until they establish a better way.
Mark assures that he will call the owner with names of local electicians and promises more hay as they need it. The woman is forever grateful. We hear the howl of coyotes. They are near. The sun is setting and it’s time to tuck the animals in. The family goes about this business.
We drive home slowly. Mark commenting on how every Christmas there seems to be some kind of structure fire. It is a strange tradition. Don’t know why this is. It just is. I wish this kind of fire refining were not necessary.
Things happen to people. I think on a saying I have often heard a friend say, “Things happen for a reason.” So often we don’t know why this is so, until much, much later. Important to keep composure. This is difficult to do when we are emotional beings.
In the mean time life requires righteous adaptation. As does Christmas. I remember a few bible verses that speak of miracles and good works. Something to the effect that all of these things speak of God. May we remember how God so loved us in giving His Son, so we may glorify our God in all things.
Even in our trials, and especially in our adaptations.
I suppose I was witness to my own strange candle lighting service in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day today. Found it in both traditional and nontraditional terms. Too bad it took a tragedy and terribly painful loss of property, not to mention the life of a young man’s prize Fair goose for me to see Christmas and Christ among the ashes of a family’s barn.
Light also shining in the best gifts offered in time, and service, and hay and listening, and hugs. The Spirit of Christ and of Christmas aglow in prayers and answers to prayers. If not bright and brighter to the world then brighter to me and to a homeschooling family and to a hand full of firefighters.