Tending the Temple

Don’t Forget the Presence

It’s 7:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve. I fell asleep around 8:30 last night, utterly exhausted from the emotional, physical and financial strain of the past few weeks; months really. The pace I’ve kept since school started in September has been catching up with me during the pre-holiday rush, and I’ve had a breakdown or two. I’m simultaneously comforted and saddened to know I’m not the only one.

So at 7:30, I’m already showered and dressed. I’m enjoying a cup of tea and making a list of all the things I need to buy and do before 1:00 this afternoon when the kids come home. Get the salmon and mac ‘n cheese for dinner, and treats for breakfast Christmas morning. Pick up a last-minute gift. Wrap the rest of the presents. And don’t forget the presents at Floyd’s house!

I did most of my shopping last month. Thanks to Amazon, I had most of my kids’ gifts done and wrapped the first week of December. And to prevent the attempts at shaking and peeking, I took them to Floyd’s house for safe-keeping. It’s Christmas Eve, and they are still there!

So don’t forget the presents, I say to myself at 7:30 in the morning. Don’t forget the presents.

But in the hustle of last minute buying, wrapping, cooking, dressing up, churching, eating, unwrapping, and singing at midnight mass, I need to remember something just as important.

Don’t forget the present.

I will never have this Christmas Eve again. Never again will my kids be 14, 11, and 9. It’s all to human for my heart to grieve over the loss of 13, 10, and 8, and all too easy to forget the present.

I may never again have both my parents at my house for dinner for this most special of family meals. I don’t like thinking about that possibility, because they are both healthy. But far too many friends have unexpectedly lost a parent in the last year, and I need to remember I’m not immune. In the stress of the season, it’s all too human to take them for granted, all too easy to forget the present.

Ultimately, Christmas is a holiday about The Presence. The ultimate Presence of God, taking on flesh so that He could truly Be with us, Emmanuel.

So today, as I shop and wrap and dress and cook and eat and sing and “keep Christmas,” I will remember the present.

And the presents. Please don’t let me forget the presents!

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