We ate a late lunch today - roast, mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles, cranberry sauce, french onion soup, rolls and two kinds of pie. It was quite an ordeal to put together, even with the help of the whole family. It was nice, though, to be busy and productive. And I was doing just fine until I hugged my father and he whispered "I love you."
Then I fell apart. I walked quickly to the kitchen to clean up (and escape the tears choking my throat) and the only thing I could think was "this day is terrible - my daddy has cancer and my husband is in jail."
This Christmas sucks.
In the last two days I have helped to lead three church services and sung countless carols extolling God. I have prayed, spoken, sung, pondered and given thanks for God's Advent into the world. But really, today still sucks.
Instead of rejoicing in a full house, I am brought low by Cliff's absence. Instead of commiserating over swollen bellies, I am fretting over my dad's dwindling appetite and his few painful bites of food. Instead of peace, I feel brokenness.
If there is a part of the Christmas story that I feel closest to right now, it is the slaughter of the holy innocents. My family has been ravaged and now we are struggling to find consolation in the aftermath. I don't feel the peace of God's presence. I don't feel the joy of angels or shepherds. I don't feel the awe of wisemen. I feel the desperate confusion of the mourning mothers and fathers of bethlehem - shocked at their ripping loss.
So this is Christmas - this year at least. About the only thing I DO have hope for is that 2012 and all it entails will be better than 2011. And that next Christmas I will feel the presence of Emmanuel.
But this year?
Not so much.