Christmas began today. A 12-day celebration of life that stops modern society at least for a moment. Even Walmart closes on Christmas.
My family drove into town a few days ago, making the 24-hour car pilgrimage from Chicago. Since they arrived, there hasn't been a dull moment.
I love Christmas, and the moments that the family is wholly focused on Christ. Like when we went caroling as a family Sunday night to people in the neighborhood... and for a few moments it felt like my life really fit into place.
But with family also comes stress. Huge amounts of stress. Which is why, while everyone else is doing yet another white elephant gift exchange, I'm sitting quietly on the floor in the corner of the room. After only 12 hours of Christmas, I'm ready to be done.
Somewhere in between a dozen crying kids, someone kicking the beloved family dog and (obviously) angering its owners, having to explain to a dozen incredulous family members what's inside my baked tofu soup, and the overwhelming stress that simply comes from being at a family gathering... sometimes I wish I were far away from family where Christmas would be quiet. But the only time that's ever happened was when I was a missionary, and even then, only once. In a tiny town on the island of Sardegna, where no one in the ward spoke to me or my newly arrived companion... and we just went out to share the gospel.
But this is just the beginning. Ten more days of family gatherings, a dozen conversations happening at the same time, and late nights.
And this is supposed to be vacation. Lol. I love Christmas, but sometimes I wish I were in a stable in Judea, or sitting on a quiet hillside overlooking the city at night. Yes, Christ's birth was heralded by the heavenly host singing Alleluia. But, after everyone left, "Mary kept all of these things in her heart."
I'm sure she was glad for the peace.