Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Re-Discovered

There's something magical about strolling around the Plaza in Kansas City with my family of origin during Advent. I don't know how many times I've done it over the past 37 Advents, but it's safe to say it has been most of them. Erin and the kids and I drove up to KC Friday afternoon after the funeral and met Mom and Dad, my sister and nephew, my brother and his fiance', and we did our thing.

We went into the bookstore, we ate a really nice dinner, we gave our nephew his birthday presents, we walked to the penguin statues and posed with them, we crossed the bridge and made my brother do his Winston Churchill impersonation, we watched lights and horses pulling carriages and people meeting people, we traded Christmas presents.

And somewhere in between leaving the cemetary after the funeral on Friday afternoon and crashing into bed late late that night, I think I may have re-discovered a bit of Christmas. At least the doorway opened a crack and a bit of light shone through.

And then Sunday morning that door opened further during what Campbell UMC calls the "Nativity Parade." Sort of a mini-Christmas pageant, the Nativity Parade consists of congregational singing of several traditional carols, during which the children of the church walk down the center aisle in costume, ending up posed in the chancel area, depicting the birth of Jesus.

Stars, livestock, shepherds, wise men (and women, in our case), the holy family, angels. The whole cast of characters was there. And I don't know if it was that one small preschool star at the early service coming down the aisle all by himself, or maybe my son Wesley dressed as an angel with a gold garland halo sitting crooked on his head, or my daughter Cori who was representing the Wise Women bearing gifts, or the sight of Shane (our Children's Director's husband) who had dressed in full shepherd regalia in order to lead our littlest cows, sheep, and camels into the room, or the sheer silliness of kids wearing enormous false beards and carrying wooden canes as shepherd crooks, or maybe the buzz of energy in the room as the grown-ups craned their necks to get a glimpse of the wonderful sight and smiled with delight, or what.

I don't know what it was exactly, but all of a sudden the door into Christmas was thrown wide open, and I walked through. All of that stuff from my previous post still happened; it's still there. But I hit the reset button on my perspective, and things look different today. It's not so much that the blues went away, it's that I sang through them, and came out the other side.

We had a nativity parade at all three services, and it happened every time! My spirit is in such a better place today. We hosted an open house at the parsonage last night, and it was truly a joy to welcome the dozens and dozens of people who stopped by, mugs in hand, to enjoy a bit of hot apple cider and a cookie or two, but mostly just to be together and smile and laugh and talk and embrace one another.

Today is Christmas Eve Eve Eve. (My kids have been tracking how many "Eves" for about a week now.) And today I'm smiling easier. Maybe it was the Plaza. Maybe it was the Nativity Parade. Maybe it was all the thoughts and prayers of my family and friends. Maybe it was a little bit of everything. Maybe it was how God moved through all of those things together to (once again) surprise me with such astounding love. Merry Christmas.


Anonymous said...

And Merry Christmas back atcha (Erin and the kids as well!) Glad to hear Joy from you again!!!


larryepke said...

And Merry Christmas to you lot from Papa Larry!!

JudyCS said...

"And ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing!"

- verse 3 (I think) from "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"

John Schmalzbauer said...

Cookie or two? I'm afraid I ate four. Glad that you are feeling Christmasy again!

Anonymous said...

Promise that you will take Dad and me to the Plaza when we can no longer take ourselves? cb