For those of you who came here looking for a more theological approach to Christmas, see this post on my theology blog. One of the highlights of my Christmas Eve came at the end of the last Christmas Eve service. The lights dimmed in the church, people holding beeswax candles while singing "Silent Night"--it was a beautiful sight.
We spent Christmas Eve going to church services and counting the money in between. It felt somewhat strange, but someone needs to do it, and since we've already hosted our families, it made sense for us to do it.
We finished Christmas Eve, well, early Christmas morning actually, by taking a final deposit to the bank. When we did it a few years ago, I expected it to feel dangerous--certainly thieves must know that many churches get their biggest donations on Christmas Eve. But the streets seemed deserted, both then and last night.
As we drove home, we talked about how grateful we are for our quiet neighborhood. We remembered an early Christmas morning when we returned to our old house to find ourselves bombarded by noise on both sides: drunken neighbors celebrating early--or was it late? In any case, I am profoundly grateful for our quiet street where we live now.
Today we will grill a turkey. We've cut it into smaller pieces so that we could brine it. In many ways, it will be like grilling a big chicken, I think.
We made an espresso barbecue sauce, just in case we decide we don't want the more traditional approach of Thanksgiving Redux that we have planned. We will make a pumpkin pie with the pumpkin that I processed back in November. We will have sides: stuffing, cranberry relish, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole.
At some point I must get back to sane eating--but not today. Today I will focus on the fact that the sides contain veggies, as well as starches. And tomorrow we will make turkey soup.
Yesterday as I went back and forth to the grocery store, I noticed a handmade sign that said "Free Christmas trees. Happy Holidays." I looked at the 15 trees that remained outside the grocery store, and for a brief moment, I was tempted. But instead, I took a deep whiff of evergreen air and kept walking.
Soon it is time to take the turkey out of the brine. Soon it is time to begin the food prep.
But for now, let me remember the lesson of last night: the darkness has not overcome the light. Let me remember the message of the Advent/Christmas season: "Be not afraid." It is so very easy to let fear sink us.
This year has felt particularly dark, although this article explains why so many of us are actually much safer in 2014 than we have been throughout much of human history. In this year of many cancers, none of them mine, and other diseases that seem so resistant to cures that plague my friends, I need that reminder that even in the darkest times, the light stubbornly breaks through.
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