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The Week Before Christmas

So Christmas rolls around this year along the usual lines: the Cantata early in the month to doing cookie day almost on top of the Day itself, to shopping in five minute stints at Old Navy Store in the mall while at work, online shopping, getting a few things from my store, then changing the gift plan to what fits reality. Before we know it, Anne is crossing off the days on a chart Francis has made for her, a countdown to Christmas. Other grandchildren are giving their Christmas program and parents are shopping while I babysit. Children love this special season. I need this special season again with the reminders of Mary’s song and ponderings. God’s provision and protection from a wild man king over a helpless, poor family restores my trust in our own world of crazy kings and poor families. Maybe it doesn’t make sense now sometimes to us, just like it didn’t make sense to Mary. We know how it turned out for them. But they didn’t. Not then.

I know that the angel’s message of peace, goodwill to men is not going to just come across the world or my life or our church or anywhere by accident or by wishing. I am learning that peace and good will are the result of the decision to trust Emmanuel, the One Who has all events and outcomes in His control. I keep saying this, I know, but this knowledge is my life line.

Kristine and I knotted up this blanket for Sawyer today by the fireplace. I cleaned the ashes from both stoves today and now the fires burn happily and warm again. It’s almost time to bring wood in again. Both wood boxes are almost empty. When we bank fires and tuck in tonight I’ll feel accomplished and fulfilled. The knowledge of banked fires over deep beds of coals as we drift off to sleep is absolutely comforting. Secure.

We live around the stoves all winter. If the grandchildren sleep here, it’s by the stove. Anyone coming in from chores or work or play heads right over to the stove and stands there turning and warming. The kettle on the stove puts the needed moisture into our air. We dry laundry and boots and mittens beside it. Anyone walking by the stove at night on bathroom trips checks the stove. It is the first thing to be tended every morning … the first real consideration of every winter day. Not people problems. Not bill paying. Not work. Not new ideas. Not big accomplishments. Just this simple rite of opening the drafts, stirring the coals, adding wood, and leaving the door propped partly open to give it breathing space. Then coffee and quiet time and planning. It really is Christmastime again.

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