There is an old saying that to make God laugh we have only to tell him our plans. I keep forgetting that old thing and declaring what I will and will not do. How He must chuckle in His amusement.
My heart has ached at the thought of our last Christmas with family. I have mourned it, wrung my hands, shed a few tears, and then resolved to soak up every last moment with our loved ones close at hand.
"Move on." God whispered.
"No." I replied. "I love my life here and I don't want it to end. Let me linger a while longer."
"Let it go." He told me gently.
I shook my head and looked back over my shoulder at all that lay behind. "I can not."
"I promise that it will be okay. Walk away." He counseled.
"Please don't make me." I begged.
"Trust me. Leave it all." My Lord implored.
"I don't know how." I cried.
"Let me help you." He offered and I did.
On Sunday night, the kids and I were hit with a stomach virus. Violent yet swift-moving illness swept through our household. My husband left town for a business trip and I washed laundry, mopped floors and scrubbed the house. When they began to recover on Tuesday, I began to hope that they would be recovered enough for us to join family on Christmas Eve. The hope began to glimmer inside of me. "Please, oh please let them be well enough." I silently begged.
No sooner had I begun to hope than the flu arrived in full force. Wednesday morning I looked at the sick children lying on the couch in blanket covered lumps and I knew it was over. It would be just us for Christmas.
I mopped their brows, passed out medicine and began to pack the kitchen. A quiet voice inside me told me it was time and at last I listened. As my babies napped, I packed my way through the kitchen and the master bath. Thursday came and I moved on to the living and dining rooms. Pack, sort, clean, paint, stage.
Thursday afternoon and into Friday relatives began dropping gifts on our porch, ringing the bell and leaving. We have the plague and they want no part of it. A precursor of next year when presents will arrive via the mailman, who, like our family, will leave our packages on the porch and walk away.
Today I asked the children what they wanted for Christmas dinner. I have the turkey defrosting already. They can pick the side dishes. This isn't Thanksgiving, I reminded them, there are no traditional dishes. They looked at me as if a crazy woman were standing before them. Silence.
At last the 11 year old said, "Can we have yellow potatoes? The cheese kind from the box?" Really? I asked. He nodded.
"Okay." I told him.
His siblings were surprised at my agreement and one by one they ventured a hopeful suggestion...French fries? Cauliflower? Home-made egg noodles? Salad with ranch dressing.
As I nodded my assent to each one, they became bolder and a little wilder with their requests. I finally limited them to 2 choices a piece. They were thrilled and I saw a new tradition began to take hold. A tradition we can carry with us. The do-it-ourselves Christmas menu....and we continue to step forward one little bit at a time.