Well, the family Christmas went off without a hitch. Well done, us! Or I should say, well done, God. I did pray that there would be a minimum of tense moments, a good measure of sobriety, great food and lots of laughs. And all prayers were answered. My brothers and sisters-in-law cooked up a fantastic turkey dinner, with all the family favourites included: green bean casserole, Caesar salad and stuffing! I had been given many forms of dessert, so they sat on the table all day and we ate those before the sit down deal.
My father always stews when that many people converge on his home. He wants things to be simple. He frets when we move furniture, and drag out old treasures from drawers. He'd rather have paper plates on knees. But somehow this Christmas, with most of us there, the dining room and Mom's treasured China beckoned. If Mom could see me from the Lord's side, she would have laughed as I rampaged through the house looking for the quilted pad to protect that pricey table top. I exhausted all possible nooks and crannies and settled for a bed quilt to do the job under the white linen cloth. All plates and crystal in place, I went to the front closet to look for something and there in plain view sat the table pad. I set about dismantling and resetting before my dad could wander in and say again, "It's too much trouble. Let's just forget it. Who's going to put all this back?"
As we gathered around the table and prayed together, I rejoiced. Even though my mom is no longer with us, beloved family graced our table. My sweet nephew, a cancer survivor, and avid outdoorsman talked of his upcoming, outdoor camping trip. My youngest brother Tim, a master of anecdote told many stories that kept us laughing. Sweet sister Kathy, a dedicated Christmas celebrator wore a string of lights necklace that blinked. All things seemed festive. In the evening, in the midst of a frantic cleanup, my sweet Aunt Leona and cousin Karen arrived for a short visit. Way too short. We had to hit the road for the two hour drive home.
So Christmas was enjoyed. God is good. He is the God of families. He places us in the midst of such interesting people and asks us to love unconditionally. This year was easy, this year was good.