Thanksgiving, my favorite of all holidays, has come and gone. Leftover turkey and stuffing has been devoured, tables and chairs put back in storage. Orange, brown and gold are neatly tucked away, making room for red and green and all that is merry. November has turned into December and signs of Christmas are popping up everywhere. It's a joyous time, all of it, Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the hecticness and peace and love in between.
Last week's celebrations started mid week when the girls came home from school. In my four years of college kids, I have never been so grateful to have them leave the big city as this time. Michael Brown, protesting and riots, and the jury's decision not to indict is eerliy close to them and it felt so good to have them in the safety of small town life. Here, I could touch them and see them and know that they're fine. Here, Ferguson feels like an entire world away.
Jamee made herself scarce while she was home, spending most of the time at the library or locked away in a quiet room studying. It's her final final's week and her classses and exams are intense. My mama heart wanted to tell her to take a break for a few days, to give her mind the rest it so desperately needs. That same mama heart admires her discipline and determination and knows that the light at the end of her education is in sight. She's taking exams this week and the rest, the last nine months of her schooling, will be spent interning in hospitals, applying all the classroom knowledge.
Jade spent most of Wednesday in the kitchen with me. Baking and preparing and setting tables with more settings than we really have room for. Jim and the boys joined us in the evening. It's tradition. The men make the stuffing and prepare the turkey in our house. It's a hot mess of bread cubes and broth, laughter, mild irritation and mountains of dirty dishes. Jim sips a glass of wine during the preparing and now Jamee joins him in that, which seems flat out impossible.
Thanksgiving morning dawned with light snowfall. We weren't exactly dreaming of a white Thanksgiving but we got it anyway. It was a reminder that sometimes things come unordered and there is beauty in them if we look for it.
We headed out for some impromptu family pictures. I had idealisticc visions of big, happy smiles and photos that say "we've got it all together." But the photos speak truth. Our family is imperfect, terribly, unbelievably, perfectly imperfect. The girls enjoy photos, Jim tolerates them and the boys flat out loathe them.
Grant and Brock are good sports.
But Moise and Kruz? They have no pretenses. They feel what they feel. They hate family pictures and they won't pretend the don't. In the end, I love the pictures, the memories, the beauty, the smiles and even the frowns for they keep us real.
Thanksgiving dinner was somehow very calm and very loud, all at the same time. That many people in one house raises the decibel level, there's no way around it. But it's the peaceful sound of clinking dishes and multiple conversations and laughter. The sound of family.
As we ate, I remembered, with a sharp pang, back to a year ago when Moise was in so much post surgery pain. The last year has tried and stretched us in mighty ways. Moise's surgery didn't have the results we hoped for but he is resilient and we are finding ways to make the best of what is. We've moved on and we're not looking back or staying stuck in what should be.
Jamee pulled herself away from studying long enough to do some early Black Friday shopping with us. We don't care much about the great deals. It's more about greeting each other in darkness of the early morning hour to don coats and gloves. It's about warming our hands around mugs and breathing in rich, hot lattes. Hot breakfast at Bob Evan's tastes better after early morning shopping in the dark. Actually, maybe it's really all about food and not about shopping at all. But most of all, it's about laughter. We laugh a lot when we Black Friday shop. Maybe because we're sleep deprived or maybe because it's the ushering in of the beautiful Christmas season or both. And perhaps the most beautiful thing about that Friday is that when the shopping is done, we still have two and half days left before we return to work and school and real life.
Back at home we brought out Christmas. Twinkling lights, reds and golds and greens and carols speak, "it's December. Let's remember the One true light of the world."
The nativity, even with the angel Gabriel that won't stand up straight, serves as a daily, hourly reminder of Christ the King, who came to save the whole world.
So much happened over this Thanksgiving weekend and not all of it was lovely. We rode a few waves of hurt and anger and frustration. We had to make some tough decisions and learn again that sometimes life isn't fair. These things, along with all the good, are a part of growing up and being adults.
Yesterday I put out the snow village that our children bought for me over the years. It makes me want to step into that miniature world for just awhile. It's so quaint, so peaceful, so uninterrupted. When I look at it seems impossible that anything there could ever be ugly or unjust.
Yet I know that such a place does not exist. No country, no city, no village is perfect and without blemish. The world is beautiful and life is good, but not perfect and not always peaceful. Peace, true peace, can only be found within our hearts and it can only come from the baby who deserved a palace but was given a manger. It comes only from the child who grew up to die so that we can know peace.
To know Christ is to know peace. Happy December.
God is good, all the time.