Three years ago our Christmas was unexpectedly filled with the sounds and smells of Dad's hospital room as he fought his last battle with Kidney Cancer. It was not a Christmas I would have chosen for myself, but surely Daddy's last Christmas with me is precious beyond compare. I can still see the string of holiday lights hanging in our hotel window and taste the room service chicken fingers and chocolate fudge sundaes. I remember the strange disappointment I had at realizing there would be no "surprise" jewelry gifts from Dad that year, and the surge of pleasure at seeing his familiar writing on the money envelopes hanging off the tree...an old tradition. It was a bone-crunching, hard Christmas. I wouldn't want to repeat it and I wouldn't want to trade it.
This Christmas, too, is surprising me. We have another family of four living and celebrating with us before they move to Georgia. We love this family, and I am so grateful to have them here. But eight people living in this house is maxing us out! I've given up on having a perfect house, or even enough clean towels around. But the reward is having time together: unhurried time to share things we'd forgotten to talk about before. This isn't our normal Christmas, but I have a feeling that in a few years I'll realize that I wouldn't trade it for anything, either.
I don't want to hurry this day. So my prayer for me and for you tonight is that we find ourselves fully experiencing whatever Christmas we find ourselves in this year. Slow down and welcome the changes. Surprise yourself.