Hard to believe it's Christmas Eve already. It's been warm and grey and muddy of late, the two feet of snow that fell the other week melting, freezing, and melting again, patches of grass beyond the four-foot high mounds left by the snow plow. Maybe we'll have a touch of snow later today.
All those weeks of Advent and I'm still not ready. Ran around with the kids shopping on Saturday just to spend some time with them before they left yesterday to visit Grandpa, aunts and uncles, and cousins who all will be congregating in the Midwest. The kids finally went out and got a tree together on Thursday and Friday night decorated it. My son and his girlfriend disappeared upstairs, and my daughter and I watched Princess Bride on t.v. Yesterday went to early mass, drove them to the airport, and finally did some shopping myself.
Now they're gone. Had a bit of heart failure last night when I frantically text-messaged them when they should have arrived two hours earlier, when the last I had heard from them from Detroit was that their connecting flight was on time. Turns out that the wind gusts in Milwaukee were so bad that they had to circle around for an hour and almost went back to Detroit. Thank God they landed safely.
Today looms so long. I should be at church from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. or so, unless we decide to come home for some of the 7-9 p.m. break between services. Have scarcely seen my husband, which, of course, is usual. Among other things, he had to write two sermons for last week (one an ordination sermon), and three for this long weekend -- Advent IV and two for Christmas Eve (one of the latter going to be recycled over for use Christmas morning). We'll probably just sleep tomorrow afternoon. Then it's back to work on Wednesday. Gift exchange, such that it is, probably will wait until later in the week when the kids return.
I wonder sometimes how other clergy families manage. In the beginning it was good to participate in something far more important than family gatherings, and to get away from the football t.v. fests, the delicate maneuvering around delicate family matters, the restless children, the focus on gifts, and what to do afterwards other than eat and eat and eat and fall into a carbed up stupor. Now it's just a time to try to be inconspicuous and avoid frayed nerves and tired, aching bodies. It's a series of performances, which each year have their own little glitches but the show always goes on. Nothing wrong with that -- indeed, as Children of the Story, it is vital that it gets played out in all of its splendor.
I met a girl who sang the bluesSo let the music play on, the church bells ring, and those three men and their good women carry on. It sure beats the alternative.
And I asked her for some happy news,
But she just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before,
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.
(Don McLean, American Pie)