Whew! I'm not late. I feel like Scrooge who awoke and learned he hadn't missed Christmas. There's still time to send Christmas greetings! Thank God for the internet.(sometimes) As for you who sent cards through the much maligned US Postal Service, thank you. You deserve medals or a fresh sheet of Forever stamps. For sure, your ilk and my preference for real letters and cards are shrinking. However, I might as well join the long list of unprecedented events of this past year, and sneak in a greeting under the banner of the 12th Day of Christmas. Which you know is today, unless you grew up Baptist, like I did. So here goes my first blog-card, which already sounds like something for which an apology is due. But first, an explanation. Somewhere I read that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, I asked my son for a tutorial on downloading photos to this blog. The pictures that follow attest to the fact I'm teachable. The class took place via Zoom last Sunday, the 10th Day of Christmas. It went well, since only three times did my son yell, "Just shoot me, Mom, and end this misery!" Or, something like that. Granted we were into hour three. Since Chad has a life beyond zooming, I learned just enough to insert the photos, but not enough to change the order. So I'll begin with the most recent, taken twelve days ago. This illustrates how I handled being alone on Christmas morning for the first time in eighty years. After preparing a feast, I lit the Advent candles, surrounded myself with photos, then breakfasted with the Grands.
From left to right: a bowl of fresh fruit, a cinnamon roll, 2 strips of crispy bacon, one scrambled egg and the cardinal mug with hot coffee infused with cardamom.
Oh, so sorry, since you’re probably more interested in who the Grands are. From left to right:Kate/Poco, Maggie, Basil, Luke and Lily. The “angel” Jud is in the small photo nearest the bacon. Actually, he’s on heaven’s porch shaking his head and praying.
From left to right: Chad, Kristina, Lily, Maggie, Luke, Momo(me), Matt and Heather with Kate/Poco and Basil front and center, sorta.
The Carlberg family: Kristina, Maggie, Chad, Kate and Cozy, their dog. Blue hair courtesy of Poco.
To be sure, faith, family, good neighbors, friends, zoom, this view, the coming vaccine and connecting through the blog infused shots of hope and joy during this no-good-very-bad year. Overall, as one year ended and another began, I felt relief and thankfulness.
So, instead of waiting for the Times Square ball to drop, I dropped to my knees. Part of my prayer was to be able to get back up. So why pray? Growing up Baptist we weren’t into kissing strangers or clinking glasses of champagne to welcome the New Year. However, we were into casseroles, jello molds, desserts and going to church on New Year’s Eve for Watch Night Services.
We older kids helped hang crepe paper streamers in the church basement and arrange folding chairs. Then, after potluck supper, old and young played games and watched a Moody science film. It was more fun than it sounds. Which says more than I wish about our social life.
Then, about eleven o’clock we went upstairs to sing , share testimonies and end the evening praying. It was mostly the older folks, who had the most to say about God’s faithfulness. As a kid I wondered sometimes how they could be so positive. I knew some had been sick, lost jobs, dealt with failed crops and problems in their marriages and families. Yet still , to them, God was faithful and life, though hard, was good.
And now, that I’m old, I get it. They sang what they believed. “Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come. ‘Twas grace has brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.” It’s still true. Which is why I chose to be on my knees five nights ago, a little before midnight, like we did when I was a kid. Those old ordinary saints, taught me more than they or I realized about life, love, sacrifice, courage, resiliency and faithfulness. Theirs, as well as God’s.
So to all of you on this Twelfth Day of Christmas and the fifth day of January, 2021, I say,”Thank you.” You are blessings I count, instead of sheep. You, young and old, are some of those ordinary saints to me and to more than you realize.
And so to bridge the past year with 2021, I pass along one of my favorite prayers. It’s from the heart of Eugene Peterson, and one I first read in Harold Myra’s, One Year Book of Encouragement.(June 10th entry)
“God of all beginnings and all endings, I bring all my unfinished business to you…everything I started and couldn’t finish, all that I began and lost interest in, all that I began in hope and quit in despair. Make finished work of it all, by your grace. Amen”
Harold responded with,”The amen may be the most important part of his prayer. He puts his concerns before the Lord and then leaves them in his hands.”
Well, it’s the Twelfth Day of Christmas and, according to the song, there’s a ruckus in and around any house that’s received these gifts. As for partridges, turtle doves, and french hens, I prefer Mrs. Rodgers fried chicken and Lily McGinley’s fresh coconut cake over five gold rings. Nine ladies dancing weren’t an option in our Baptist Church. But when it comes to ten lords a-leaping, eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming, I’ll take a basement festooned with streamers and a five star or more potluck. But mostly I’d take to heart that deep sense from those old saints who believed by faith not sight, that the best was still to come.
Oh, and I’d love hearing any one of those wrinkled saints say grace, before becoming the sight of grace on worn out knees, as they offered aloud their hopes, fears and even longer litany of thanks to Grace, himself.
And as for the year ahead?
“Through many dangers toils and snares we have already come. ‘Twas grace has brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.”
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