It was a calm night. The snow fell thick and steady that Christmas Eve. It was dark early, and we put Micaela down for the night. We had bought a little rosemary tree the week prior, and placed grandma Mayo’s oranges and grapefruit around it, as she was in the habit of sending a box every year from Florida.
We turned the lights off, while our string of Christmas lights hung loosely below our large, double window in the living room. Our staple lentil soup had been simmering on the stove, and we sat down, backs against our low bed, and ate out of mugs, sharing a glass of Our Daily Red.
We opened our gifts by candlelight. Paper parcels that had been sitting in the corner of the window sill since the morning. We knew what they were, but still enjoyed the ritual of opening the carefully wrapped gifts. I bought her a copy of Nourishing Traditions so she didn’t have to keep renewing it from the library. And she, Eberhard Bethge’s massive Biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for me.
We ate and drank, and our bodies and minds relaxed as we watched the drifting snow.
* * * * *
It was too expensive to fly home that Christmas, and besides, I had to work the next day. So even getting together with the family we had within a three or four hour drive, topped with the snow storm, seemed a daunting task.
Instead, on Christmas Day we had been invited to Ryan and C-‘s house for dinner, along with Richard. They had also connected with some Middle Eastern exchange students who wanted to spend time with an American family during Christmas to practice their English, so they came as well. Twelve of us in all.
Ryan is one of the most charismatic and joyful men I have ever met. He had a gigantic laugh, and was so free-spirited that he seemed to not care at all what others thought of him. Maybe free-spirited doesn’t quite do him justice, though. Rather, he was unaware of himself, it seemed. His joy sprung from the fact that God miraculously rescued he and his wife from physical and spiritual death. Their relationship started full of heartbreak, lying, cheating, stealing and addiction. It was now full of love and three beautiful children. The last time we had dinner with them, they told us their story, and I only wish I had recorded it, because it was the most incredible testimony of God rescuing two people who were running away from him as fast and hard as they could.
This passion, once again, was overflowing at our dinner table, as he began to talk about Jesus. (He couldn’t help himself.) He shared the Word of life with them. It was a seed planted. Perhaps, which was watered elsewhere, and maybe which will one day sprout. I will never know.
Richard was pleased to be in the presence of others this Christmas, and he ate with mirth in his eyes, laughing as he teased Micaela in her high chair next to him.