How was your Christmas? This year we had a merry little Christmas, with the emphasis on little. Most of the things I consider Christmas traditions went by the wayside. I didn’t even attend a Christmas Eve service in person. Tom and I watched three of them online, but it just isn’t the same, no matter how big our television is.
I only watched a handful of Christmas movies instead of my usual dozen. I bought fewer presents because 1. Bought a house and having less disposable income and 2. Seeing lots fewer people. There wasn’t the usual scramble to have supper with all our friends in restaurants before we head to Georgia. Who knows when we will be working in the national parks again? Or traveling or eating in restaurants.
So it was a merry little Christmas. We stopped by my brother’s house for a 15 minute front lawn visit and gave them a box of presents. Then, a few days later, my sister and her husband came to our house for a 30 minute garage visit. On Christmas day we went up to Mom and Dad’s and Jackie and John joined us for an afternoon that looked very similar to Thanksgiving.
I’m not complaining. I’m very grateful that we were able to see family even if the visits were short. And I’m very thankful that Mom and Dad and John and Jackie are all being so careful so we can all spend time together. We are so blessed to all be healthy at this point in this difficult year.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary and Joseph. Separated from their loved ones at a difficult time. I’m sure Mary wished for her mother as she suffered labor pains in a stable. Their stay in Bethlehem was challenging, even if it also brought new blessings. And shortly after the birth of Jesus they journeyed to Egypt where they lived in exile for a time. Cut off from loved ones without the benefit of modern communication technologies, they must have felt so alone.
But protecting the gift of Jesus in their lives outweighed their loneliness and desire to be with family. Mary and Joseph knew the exile was just for a short time and then they would be able to return home to the life they knew.
Protecting the gift of Jesus in our lives should be the most important thing to us as well. This time of loneliness, of boredom, of solitude can be a time when we nurture the gift of love given to us at Christmas. It is not a new gift but an ancient gift representing the very best that God could offer. Love came down at Christmas, to live in our hearts and lives no matter how difficult the circumstances.
This gift of love may feel very small because we can’t share it in so many ways right now. But it is a gift we carry with us always. It is the very best gift of all and, really, the only one that matters.
Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough!
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.