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Sunday, December 25, 2005

It Is Finished


Aaaaaaahhhh……

Let me just breathe deeply for a moment. In, out. In, out.

Our guests have left, the children are tucked, and the remaining adults are deciding how to spend the remainder of Christmas Day 2005. It is 9:15pm and Barbara has decided to hit the hay, Bob is trudging through “The Grizzly Maze” by Nick Jans, Bruce is in front of the fire with a book, and I am writing to YOU.

When I tucked Sabrina in tonight and kissed her fluorescent pink eyebrows, she told me her three favorite presents of the day: the amazing make-up kit (the ONE THING Sabrina really wanted this year) courtesy of Auntie, which was directly responsible for the pink eyebrows; her stuffed poodle-dog that Santa left in her stocking; and an Imaginext set.

I had to chuckle, because the stuffed dog was a thrift-store find, and the Imaginext was meticulously selected by older brother Jack from his personal stash of those toys. He painstakingly, and duct-tape’dly, wrapped these pieces, first sealed in a Ziploc, then taped into a Capri-Sun box, and finally secured in a Costco milk box. I’ve never seen a wrapping job its equal.

Meanwhile, Jack does not claim to play favorites with HIS new gifts, but I caught him spending hours obsessively reworking the Star Wars Legos he received from Auntie Karen, and at bedtime, he was caught shining the triceratops flashlight received from Great Aunt Karin onto the pages of the pirate book received from cousins Brendan and Patrick and their parents (Aunt Liz and Uncle Steve).

Ellie spent most of the day wearing the dress-up clothing Bruce and I had gotten for Sabrina (who at bedtime claimed to have outgrown “dress-up” stuff). Meanwhile, Ellie played aggressively with the two Polly Pocket sets received from Auntie Karen (Auntie Karen AGAIN.)

Evan loved his “doodles” the Doodle Pro received from cousin John Wesley and his parents (Uncle Doug and Aunt Kathleen), and the Aqua Doodle received from Evan’s parents (Bruce and I). He also was obsessed with HIS flashlight from Great Aunt Karin (this one, a dog). He is currently snuggled to bed under the Elmo blanket I made for him.

First thing this morning, I showed the kids the NORAD Santa tracker. I played for them the video clip of Santa flying around the Space Needle in Seattle. The girls were suitably impressed. Later, Jack, who knows the “truth” about Santa, and in fact played a key role in the stuffing of stockings just last night, said: “But I thought Santa wasn’t real.”

I smiled wickedly at him.

He further said, “But I saw him. On the computer…… HOW is that possible?”

I shrugged, leaving it to him to muddle his way to the “truth,” delighting in the crumbling of the wall of arrogance and cynicism that comes with unbelief. Believing in Santa may be nothing more than an exercising the muscle of faith and belief, but if that is true, it is a muscle which greatly needs exercising.

Our first dinner guests arrived at 1:40pm, twenty minutes early (it was the Phillipps, and the only reason they were early is because they thought we were starting at 1pm, which would, in their eyes, have made them 40 minutes late). It was a good thing too, because, when Bruce pulled the behemoth roast out of the oven to check it at 2:00pm, it was DONE –A WHOLE HOUR EARLY! No time for the Yorkshire pudding.

So we quickly tossed the salad and thawed the rolls. Bruce threw together the sour cream and miraculously-discovered horseradish. Thankfully the tables were already both set (if you know me at all, you can appreciate what a miracle this truly was.) We sent Jack next door to alert the Conners, our other guests, that soup was on. While everyone was pouring wine and finalizing other dinner details, I slapped together the gravy, and we were good to go.

The kids ate in the kitchen at the table. The adults were in the family room around the cramped, but (I’d like to hope) cozily decorated table (hand-picked spruce fronds, people – unfortunately no photographic proof, only eye-witnesses)s. We lit the scones, the gas fireplace and the tealights in the centerpiece. Conversation was lively, food was consumed, and it was good.

After a certain amount of time following dinner, the children were invited to destroy the gingerbread house so painstakingly constructed over the past five days. Destroy it they did. It made me a little sad, but how many gingerbread houses ever actually get eaten?

The Conner’s had to leave us early for another “engagement” (popular Fed-Ex family that they are). After putting down Ellie and Evan down at 6:30, most of the rest of us played our new game “Apples to Apples”, a game of comparison and association that truly creates a level playing field. Jeff Phillipps won round-one, and Jack won round-two. It was great fun.

At 8:30 the Phillipps left, and Bruce and I put Jack and Sabrina to bed. So now I have come back around to where I started… with a deep sigh of relief.

It was a great Christmas. The gifts, while plentiful, were modest. The food, while early, was ready to deliciously fill hungry tummies.

So where was Jesus in all this? I would like to think that He was here, walking amongst us: building new memories with precious family; further cementing the bonds of existing friendships; and through the joy of laughter and camaraderie, erecting a shelter of faith and hope.

So, the day is done. The gingerbread house looks like it encountered Hurricane Katrina. It is now a pile of broken pieces in a Ziploc freezer-bag. The dishes are done and put away (courtesy of Bruce and Barbara). There are still three pies left of the five I made yesterday.

What remains are (I hope) good memories for all; air warmed by candles, light, ovens, and smiles; and a pile of books with my name on it.

Peace be with you.

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