It was the festive ambience of a family at Christmas. Sisters-in-law,
brothers-in law, parents-in-law, nephew, nieces. Nearly twenty in all.
On this Christmas-past, I am a sponge. I soak in all that I see and hear. My
daughter is just a few months old and we all agreed to meet in Colorado for
Christmas. One family has an air mattress and sleeping bags in the basement.
A hide-a-bed couch serves to accommodate another family; spare bedrooms are
filled to capacity.
One sister, in full joy, proclaims that she has the cutest baby on planet
earth, while another exacts a proclamation of equal conviction with general
disagreement on all sides while I quietly gaze at my own daughter, who is
without question the cutest child by far. I turn and look near the
fireplace, the rest of the guys are working on a jig saw puzzle (well over a
million pieces if memory serves). Our children perform grand and glorious
firsts - moments worthy of a TV movie of the week and our wives are chanting
their praises as the men set bleary eyed, not willing that any puzzle piece
should perish for lack of immediate placement.
In time, we eat turkey and are served a full compliment of the season's
finest provisions; cranberries, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet
potatoes, the very-veggie contents of a relish tray, candy, cookies and pies
and other non-descript specialties that include a combination of
marshmallows and some sort of green stuff.
We all leave the table having eaten far too much while exercising far too
little restraint. The triptophan suddenly immerses the male populace of this
small village into a comical bob-n-weave as one by one; we succumb to
"slumber so deep" while our children bounce on our belly's, "like bowls full
The presents were opened and everyone ooh'ed and aah'ed and then quickly
contracted an advanced case of amnesia with neither the gift nor the giver
A clash of cultures takes place between those who have children and those
that do not. Invariably, a childless in-law (generally male) cheers like
they're at a football game, 50 yard line, 5th row, isle seat. Why? They are
the first person to land on Boardwalk. Three mom's scurry away to calm
previously sleeping children - the game is forgotten.
And as comfortable as this family Inn has been, it is not home. I try to
sleep but every noise is distinct and pronounced in its unfamiliarity. I
notice the flushing of the communal restroom facility and the creaking of
the floor and the faint whisper of others seeking elusive slumber (or more
turkey in hopes for a triptophan encore).
Suddenly it hits me; Jesus came to a packed house and wasn't allowed in. The
joyful celebrating on that first Christmas refused to acknowledge a newborn
babe. I imagine women joking and sharing stories of the agony and ecstasy of
being moms. I imagine games that the men insisted on winning. Children
alternately delighting and exasperating their parents with everyone looking
forward to going home.
I seek out a quiet spot and bring my Bible...
"And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar
Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took
place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered,
everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city
of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with
Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they
were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought
forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him
in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:1-7
Did I leave Him outside? Did I forget to bring Him with me? Was His presence
what I had been missing in all the family fun?
I looked over and two others had also found their Bibles and it suddenly
seemed the house had miraculously expanded - the Guest of honor had arrived
and found He was welcome.
Christmas had finally arrived.
Glenn A. Hascall (email@example.com) -- submitted by: Glenn A. Hascall ]
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