I have no children--why did I wake up so early? Of course, my wake up time of 6:45 a.m. might seem like a late morning to those of you with little kids in your household this morning. But I was up half the night at Christmas Eve services (for more on that, read my post on my theology blog).
I keep trying to remember when my sister and I shifted to sleeping in on Christmas morning. I'm the oldest, so it was late in my adolescence. I remember waking up at 8:00 a.m. and thinking, well, I guess we're old now. I was probably all of 17 when I thought that.
We've had a warm Christmas week, a warm Christmas month, unlike the rest of the country. I have baked no Christmas cookies, baked no Christmas bread. Anyone who knows me knows what a dramatic departure this is.
In fact, I've lost weight this Christmas season. Again, strange for me. You know those statistics about people who gain 2-5 pounds in any given Christmas season? Those people are amateurs! When I'm in my high-energy baking mode, I can gain 10 pounds, easily during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's. And then the New Year's gnashing of teeth begins. So, maybe this holiday hecticness that I've experienced between Thanksgiving and this morning has been a blessing. I've been too busy to bake, too busy to eat much most days.
Strange to think that most of the world lives this way. Heck, most of the world experiences food scarcity that they can't control. But much of the U.S. spends time rushing from pillar to post, unable to find time to shop, to cook, to eat. At least I haven't done what a lot of folks do, which is to eat fast food. Blhh. I'd rather have a bowl of cereal.
Soon, I will return to my writing desk and think about my ambitions, hopes, and plans for 2010. But for today, I'll relax. Maybe I'll get a nap. If the neighborhood gets noisy, I'll go to the beach or a movie. I'm missing my extended family, but this isn't a bad way to spend the holiday. I have new books to read and Sting's new CD with winter-inspired music to listen to. Not a bad way to spend the holiday at all.
If you need a reading escape, The Washington Post is full of treasures today. The Style section is full of short essays that are nostalgic, wistful, funny--go here and scroll down to see what appeals.
The best piece in The Washington Post today is here, Michael Gerson's wonderful op-ed piece about Christmas as God's social justice holiday. I know that it's got a God theme, which may throw off the intellectuals, but he pulls it off. Here's how he concludes:
"'By normal human standards,' says theologian J.B. Phillips, 'this is a tragic little tale of failure, the rather squalid story of a promising young man from a humble home, put to death by the envy and malice of the professional men of religion. All this happened in an obscure, occupied province of the vast Roman Empire. It is fifteen hundred years ago that this apparently invincible Empire utterly collapsed, and all that is left of it is ruins. Yet the little baby, born in such pitiful humility and cut down as a young man in his prime, commands the allegiance of millions of people all over the world. Although they have never seen him, he has become friend and companion to innumerable people. This undeniable fact is, by any measurement, the most astonishing phenomenon in human history.'
Being astonishing, of course, does not make something true. The message of Christmas seems scandalously unlikely to us, just as it did to sophisticated Romans at the time. But if it is true, nothing is more important. If it is true, poverty and suffering have been shared and dignified by God Himself. If it is true, hope and memory do not end in a gash of Earth. God, let it be true."
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