It's Christmas Eve morning. I'm sitting here squinting at the screen (no contacts in yet), drinking my cup of coffee that's full of sugar free french vanilla creamer (powder please!), and in my Santa Lobster pajamas. My husband is in the living room in his devotional time and my kids are all asleep in bed. For the first time in years there is snow on the ground (though it's to start raining later so I don't know what will happen then) and it actually looks like winter. Presents have been bought, Santa has been consulted, stockings are hung, and there's eggnog in the fridge. I finally got my fudge made last night, well - at least the first batch, so the kids will quit fussing. The Christmas menu has been set (my husband always makes the main dish - this year it's boneless pork tenderloin - yum!) and the last minute shopping list of forgotten items has been started.
It has been different this year. A number of factors have contributed. My husband's back exploded November 11th and he had surgery November 30th. That means he's been home now for over a month - a different wrinkle in our routine. We didn't get to travel at Thanksgiving and everything was wrapped up in the surgery, so Christmas seemed delayed. But, our boys rose to the occasion and really handled the decorating outside and such. They did good. However, the kids are all getting older and I am extremely aware that I have our oldest on borrowed time. A junior in high school - this season is rapidly coming to an end. My mother passed away in 2008 and this is the second Christmas with her gone - and I seem to feel it more this year than last. I don't spend hours in tears or anything - but I recognize more and more the glue she was in my family. My three siblings are now all on Facebook. I can keep up with all of them easily, which is nice since one lives hundres of miles away and one thousands. My husbands family has their share of difficulties this year. His sister has been in chronic pain for over two years now - various treatments have been tried. She just had one that sounded extremely hopeful - but at the moment seems iffy. My husband's step-father's health is failing rapidly and his mom is very stressed. We worry about her.
I could go on and on about all the stresses going on around us. Friends in divorce, friends with unemployment, friends in real financial strain - but this morning I choose to stop.
On this Christmas Eve - there are blessings to be found. And they aren't even hard to see.
First, it's Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Christ - my Savior. I love giving presents, looking at lights, seeing friends and family - but NONE of it happens without Christ.
Two, my family is intact. My husband loves me and I love him. Our children are healthy and thriving. All of them drive me crazy - and I wouldn't change any of it.
Three, I have really good friends. They nourish my soul with their friendship. I've discovered there are "rings" of friends in my life - like the life rings in a tree, I am blessed with many friendship rings.
Four, my church community is just right for me. We've spent the last several years moving between churches, and this year came back to one and I feel extremely content. It is full of people who are doing their best to follow Jesus. None of them are perfect, but neither am I.
Fifth, I've discovered writing. It's a wonderful way to spend my time (and more productive than Facebook virtual worlds!) and I am blessed with a terrific critique group that keeps me going.
So, tonight I'll go to our church's Love Feast, which is a beautiful family time that blesses my heart. We'll go to Waffle House for dinner after (my kids' favorite) and look at lights on the way home.
It's Christmas - I've counted my blessings, now I'm going to enjoy.