This year, like last year, we will be out-of-town (OOT – love that acronym!) for Christmas. Last year we were in Seattle, and we were with our kids. This year promises to be a little less fun…or maybe it will be more fun, you never know. But I know I’ll miss our family.
Rob is covering call for the small island clinic where he sometimes works. They are short-staffed, so we’re going over on the Sunday ferry, and we’ll set up camp in the little apartment we use when we’re working there. I’ve collected a stash of Christmasy things to cozy us up…some favorite movies, special Christmas foods, a few gifts, all wrapped and ready for the big day. But the best part is: Rob and I will be together. We’ve spent enough time apart, and although we still have to do that sometimes…I think we should never again spend a holiday apart.
Being OOT for Christmas means we’ve minimized some things at the house…simple decorations, no tree, and some of our traditions are getting a rest this year. It’s a busy weekend…we have three social events on Saturday, and then we leave Sunday morning. But somehow this streamlined holiday seems festive even without all the usual trimmings. Maybe it’s because we have a precious new grandson, born this week. Or maybe it’s the joy and hope I hear in our son’s voice…after a difficult year and hard decisions in his life, he’s finding his way, and his spirit, again. Maybe it’s because I’m thankful that our family, by and large, is well. Not perfectly healthy, and not without struggles; there are challenges. But overall, well. My mom misses my dad, but she finds happiness in her mission and her loved ones. My husband is weary, but he continues to find a way to give to the people in his life who need him, as a physician and as a person. I see updates from family on Facebook, and although social media gets its fair share of criticism, I’m thankful to be a little better connected to dear ones who are far away. I’m thankful for faithful friends and uplifting words that I read every day.
It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”
~ W. T. Ellis
Maybe I am finding more of the spirit of the holiday this year because there is less of the bustle. I think I’ve written three cards…and that will probably be my final tally. I used to send out lots of cards…boxes and boxes. Lights were everywhere some years…garland…some years we’ve done neighborhood parties, or hosted family. I love all that…every bit of it! But in a season without quite so much to-do, I can admit that sometimes at the end of it, I was exhausted, and just ready for a long winter’s nap.
I’m sure those times will come again. We’ll have years that it’s our turn to have our kids visit, and years that every light I can find is on display. I’ll have a fresh tree and put up all my favorite ornaments, and use my Christmas china, and make all the favorite foods. But not this year. This year it will be the two of us, and a few candles, and simple food. This year we’ll be quiet, and contented to just be.
In case you’re still looking for gifts, here is a short list of suggestions:
Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
~ Oren Arnold
Merry Christmas to all. Whatever your season has brought…simple, or a year with bells on, may it be rich with the real joys of life, and may you say to those you love: “This is the good stuff!”