christmas different

It was a different kind of Christmas at the Devendorf's this year.

Joal played at church several times throughout the Christmas season--which takes him away for practices and services. We are all good with that--it's what he's good at--but we miss him a little more this time of the year, I think. His major task was the leading of the "midnight mass" (our 11PM Christmas Eve service). Fortunately, this year, we didn't have any major assembling to do when he got home at 1AM. Last year, we had a drum kit to assemble. (Lesson learned.)

We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary on the 21st, in the most casual way ever--I was recouperating from a day of major dental improvements so we just went out for a simple lunch at my favorite Mexican place. Twenty one years. At lunch, Julian said "Moma, have you loved Daddy forever?" Most definately.

Christmas Eve was spent preparing dishes for Christmas Day Lunch. I bought a ham and rolls, prepared a crock pot apple crisp, a corn and sausage chowder, black bean salsa, and a broccoli salad all to be shared at The Little Pantry. It was a full day of shopping and preparing and I was pretty tired at the end of it. From time to time, I still get knocked out by alot of movement, and Christmas Eve was a day filled with "alot of movement".

Christmas Morning came extremely early...two boys conspired to get up at the unspeakable hour of 4:35AM. Did I mention that their parents didn't even lay down until 2AM? It was not pretty. I hushed them, turned on the tree lights for entertainment and said "you will be quiet until 7AM." To their credit, they cooperated pretty well.

We opened presents and ate breakfast. Joal let me take a nap, knowing that the day was going to get really busy very shortly. By 11AM we were loaded up and headed over to The Little Pantry for Christmas Lunch. The meal preparations were already in full swing when we got there--there was roast beef, Augratin potatoes, cheesy broccoli, green beans, rolls, roasted vegetable medley and for dessert, pumpkin pie, in addition to the items we brought. Who knew Mike was such a master in the kitchen? It was a beautiful spread and I enjoyed being there. One of the volunteers brought her violin along and played some traditional Christmas tunes so beautifully during lunch. It was the perfect touch.

About 40 patrons of the pantry were served for lunch--a meal shared and gifts given. It was the way Christmas should be, for the most part. It was warm and familial.

After lunch, and clean-up, and spending a few minutes just hanging out, we came home. Julian and Grey immediately dove head-long into the assembling of the new Lego sets. That's alway a priority as soon as the Christmas festivities are complete.

It seemed to go by quickly--Christmas 2012. I didn't take many pictures. I just wanted to live it--something I don't do very often. I rarely scrapbook Christmas pictures anyway. They are all chaotic and difficult. I've never really liked the traditional color scheme of red and green--I read somewhere that most people can't make their eyes focus on red and green at the same time. How odd is that? Nevertheless, I find Christmas pictures hard to scrapbook, so for the most part, I don't.

I wanted a calm Christmas experience this year. I think for the most part, we accomplished that. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas too.



don't let the darkness win

there are times when evil seems to prevail
when darkness threatens to overtake, snuffing out the light
when life gets complicated, convoluted and hard
when the hurt comes in like a storm and wreaks havoc and conjures chaos
when faith is threatens to falter
when breathing feels like too much work
when cold surrounds like a wet blanket
when life is ending before it got started, at the hand of disease and desperation
when there's just not enough of what is desperately needed
when death steals away that which is precious and innocent
when, for a moment, our understanding of life is disrupted--shaken

what do we do in these times?
how do we respond?

do we shout at the darkness and wonder who is listening?
do we throw up our hands and declare that there is no God?
do we deny, deny, deny?
do we give in and give up?
do we mope and cry in self-pity?
do we cower in fear?
do we medicate the pain with whatever seems to dull it for a moment?
do we fall to our knees and pray?
do we pontificate on the impending world doom?
do we try to decide who deserves this cosmic punishment?
do we lash out in anger?
do we retreat and hide?
do we angle for answers that can't be found?
do we hold tighter to that which we long to protect but ultimately can't?


We live.
In the Light.
For all it's worth.
We live Loudly.
With buckets of Grace.
With Joy and Honor.
With deep intensity.
And Love.
We Love with Greatness.
And humility.
We Give with open hands.
We demand that Life is Good.
Hard but Good.
We refuse to be embraced by anything less than Right and Good and Strength and Love.
We knock down the walls that segregate and separate.
We throw open the windows and drink in the sunshine of friendship and grace and life and Love.
We turn up the music.
We create new art.
We choose to find joy in Life.
Today, just for today, we do it better.

We live better.
We give better.
We hug better.
We kiss better.
We dance better.
We breathe better.
We listen better.
We experience better.
We acknowledge better.
We do not back down from life.
We do not let the darkness win.

It's the only way.