The house is quiet. The girls have all gone out—a result of cabin fever.
Earlier today the house was alive. All my girls were here; this event alone is a blessing to me. Packages were opened and exchanged. Surprises were attempted and executed. We had some of our old traditions and initiated some new. Food was made and consumed (too much). A bag of torn and discarded wrapping paper sits by the door. The tree will come down tomorrow because we are going away for a few days, and I want the house in order when we return. All the decorations will be wrapped and put back in their totes and boxes.
And just like that Christmas is over.
This has been a very different Christmas. Why? I am not sure. There isn’t one single reason to which I can point.
Don’t misunderstand. This wasn’t a bad Christmas. It wasn’t a Christmas Vacation scenario. You understand: when odd-duck family members show up or a Christmas bonus doesn’t come or a squirrel gets in the Christmas tree. There weren’t any odd demands or expectations. There weren’t any mishaps or great disappointments.
A different Christmas.
What was the day after Jesus’ birth like?
Did Joseph and Mary and the new baby remain in the stable? What happened the day after the shepherds appeared unannounced declaring they had been instructed by angels to find the couple? Did Mary and Joseph experience the anti-climatic depression that often follows a huge event? Did the quietness of the stable close in on them? Or did they welcome it as they mulled the meaning of their unexpected visitors?
Did Joseph go out into the Bethlehem to locate a more suitable shelter for his wife and her baby? Was the census really over that quickly? Did hundreds and hundreds of people suddenly leave the small town of Bethlehem and go to the larger metropolis of Jerusalem? Did this, perhaps, open up a room in an inn?
As Joseph scoured the small village of his ancestor, David, did he question his sanity? The birth had been normal. And Jesus looked like a normal baby. Had he imagined the angel’s message in his dreams? As Joseph walked through the labyrinth streets looking for a real bed, sandless food and a cold drink what fears did he confront? And what thoughts and plans and doubts did he entertain?
And what did Mary ponder as she tidied up the stall and replenished the straw in the makeshift cradle? As she changed the swaddling clothes on her little boy what was she thinking? As she rubbed his little limbs and body with oil did she ask herself if she had simply dreamed or imagined the day before? As she called back to mind each shepherd’s face and words what exactly did she ponder in her heart? As she held the tiny bundle what stirred in her breast?
It is the day after Christmas.
The din and the excitement have simmered low.
My house is quiet.
My spirit is not.
What are you saying to me, Father?
What lessons have you tucked into this holiday to reveal yourself to me?