After Christmas


Christmas morning is here. Some of you prepared for months for this morning, buying gifts ahead of time, preparing food and freezing it, getting house decorations in place. Some of you (us) put on your red and green camo gear and went on a mad scramble yesterday with grim determination to do in 8 hours what everyone else took months to do. Whichever approach you take to this time of year, when we wear that black strip off the back of our credit cards it’s essentially over.

Every family has their traditions. When I married Maggy I found out that some families do Christmas all wrong. Her family opens all of their presents on Christmas Eve. I could not imagine this! How many Christmas Eves did I spend as a child begging my parents to let me open just ONE present? And this family is opening ALL of them! I was greatly dismayed at this abberation of the Holiday Season! They were even more horrified that after anticipating their gifts for all of these weeks, I wanted them to wait one more day. Well, we got all of this worked out right away I tell you. I did things Maggy’s way (an excellent strategy for good will and peace over these past twenty years!). I have heard that some people try to extend the opening of presents by making each person take a turn opening a gift around the room. No doubt this is a plan developed by an engineer who calculated the worth of the paper verses the amount of time it takes to eliminate the need for the paper, and devised a strategy by which the paper gained more worth and the anticipation increased dramatically. Somebody has got too much time on their hands to come up with a plan like this!

Whether you do Christmas the right way or the wrong way, it is all over in a flash. The kids have torn through the wrappings and gathered their goodies. They are taking everything out of the packaging and giving it a try. This year our grandson is 10 months old. I told his mother that this is the cheapest Christmas she’ll ever have … he doesn’t need any gifts. I can just imagine his joy in being neck-deep in wrapping paper, grabbing the ribbons and paper, wide-eyed at the colors and excitement. He wouldn’t know what to do with a new toy at this point anyway. I think she bought him several things anyway. It’s hard not to. Our nine year old granddaughter, however, will be excited by every gift and she will definitely put them all to good use. My eighteen year old son will be low-key about it all, not losing his cool … usually … but I think we will have him totally surprised this year.

As parents and grandparents it is a lot of fun to choose gifts and to hope that they mean a lot to the kids. I don’t think they mean as much as they did when I was a kid. Way back when I was a kid we used to ride the sled over the snow to grandma’s house where we got a carved piece of wood for Christmas and an orange. If we were lucky, for Christmas dinner we’d have a chicken grandpa snatched out of the yard and slung against a tree and hand plucked. Grandma ground some meal between some rocks and made some cornbread. Then we went to town the next day and bought some socks for a penny – and we were mighty glad to have ’em I tell you. Wait…I think I saw that in a movie. In my generation we woke up at the crack of dawn to see what Santa brought us – usually WAY too much. We woke up sleepy parents (why’d they stay up so late anyway?) and ran down the hall to find amazing toys and stuff we would play with for almost two weeks!  Nowadays our kids sleep in on Christmas morning. I mean, as I write this it is 8:00 and everyone’s asleep. That’s what’s wrong with this world. We’re sleeping in on Christmas morning because we already have so much stuff that even Santa doesn’t stir our interest!

I haven’t even talked about food. Christmas is as much about food as it is about gifts. I think it’s just the family gatherings that prompt us to put enough food on our tables to feed forty, even though we only have ten. Brought up with the guilt of leaving food (the starving children in China ploy created a generation of very fat people!), we eat until it is gone. Then we lob around all afternoon wondering how the kids could be bored already, given that we have just placed within their hands hundreds of dollars worth of new stuff. We nap and watch tv and then wander back in the kitchen (are we really this bold?) to see if there’s anything else left to eat. There’s only turkey left. It will be staring at us for the next several days from the fridge. Turkey is the second most dreadful leftover, trumped only by fruitcake. There could be a bowl of cranberry sauce, left useless once the dressing is gone. We wake up the next morning to find that our new pants that we were so happy to receive as a gift no longer fit. Did they shrink while wrapped up for so long under the tree?

After Christmas there is this in-between season while we await a new year. 2008 this time. How can that be? While awaiting a new year my mother will have surgery and then await the beginning of radiation and chemotherapy. 2008 is shaping up to be a year of treatment and recovery for her. 2008 will be a year of new friends and new ministry for me and Maggy. What will the new year bring to you? The truth is we really don’t know much about 2008 yet. Check with me in twelve months and I’ll tell you all about it.

Well I think I hear someone in the house stirring. It’s about time. I pray your Christmas is grand … and after Christmas as we contemplate a new year that you will be filled with the anticipation that a new year brings.

By the way … Maggy says the dressing is fantastic … so I’m awaiting that!

Also, yesterday brought a new record to my blog. 419 views of yesterday’s post. The previous record was 317 views of a post in March about Tulsa Workshop. Thanks for reading…and thanks for all of the comments yesterday. They blessed my heart.

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