Our Christmas Eve morning dawns strangely moist, with storm clouds to the north and west. I slipped out early to get to the grocery store before everybody else.
I was not the only one with that idea. I don't usually go to the grocery store on Saturdays, so I'm not sure what's normal and what's not. Many of this morning's shoppers had physical and mental disabilities. My theological mind immediately thought about how we're all broken people and how that relates to the Christmas message I'll be hearing later tonight . . . "be not afraid, for behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy" . . . somewhere along the way I have memorized the angel's words.
I pulled out my grocery list, and a woman who looked to have mental disabilities said, "Checking your list?" I said, "Twice." She said, "Merry Christmas!" I did too.
I tried to remember what foods we traditionally have on Christmas Eve. I tried not to cry when I realized that I don't really have much in the way of Christmas Eve traditions. My parents serve Scandinavian food, but I couldn't find herring in cream sauce at my South Florida grocery store.
My spouse has been craving Salisbury steak, so I bought some cube steak, and later today, we'll get out my grandmother's cast iron skillet and see if we can create a dish that's like the one my grandmother used to make, like the one my spouse's mom used to make. It's not a Christmas Eve tradition, but it will help us with our feelings of loss (his mom) and impending loss (my grandma, who still lies dying 700 miles away).
I will make some gingerbread people and decorate the sugar cookies that I made yesterday. I will try to feel festive. I will likely be successful.
People always ask me if I regret not having children, and I usually do not. But on Christmas Eve, I'm aware of how special it would be to have children around, children who would be enchanted and excited and thrilled.
Of course, I have enough friends from dysfunctional families that I know how badly it can all end up. On this Christmas Eve day, I'm grateful for my family, who may not have always understood my choices or my personality or my beliefs, but who loved me anyway. I'm grateful that I don't have family drama to complicate this holiday. I'm grateful that I can focus on some baking but can avoid a lot of the frantic aspects of the holiday.
May your Christmas Eve have sparkle and sweetness. May you hear good news and not be afraid. May you find the peace that you need.
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