Home Alone

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A friend at worked asked me yesterday if we had big plans for Christmas.  I responded that I wasn’t sure how to answer her question.  I said: “I’ve got the broad concept down, but I can’t say that I really know many of the details. The two things that I know for certain is that we are having a Christmas Eve candlelight service at church and we are celebrating the birth of Christ at church on Sunday morning”.  What else do I need to know?

Actually, I know more than I’m letting on and I’m looking forward to everything associated to the weekend. Treva and I are hosting an open house in our home following the Christmas Eve candlelight service for anyone who’d like to stop by for the conversation, a time to visit with others and good things to eat.

Actually, Treva’s mother is flying in tomorrow to spend Christmas with us.  Kevin and Andrea are in Cozumel this week enjoying warm weather, but they will be back late on Friday.  Craig and his family tentatively plan to arrive at our home late afternoon on Christmas day.  I know that only because my daughter told me that Becky said she was sorry they couldn’t get here earlier.  She knew that my having to wait to disassemble and put away the Christmas tree would be stressful for me.

At least I’m a creature of habit and I’m predictably consistent.  However, since Christmas falls on Sunday and we’ll be at church, I couldn’t disassemble and put it all away on Christmas morning anyway.  Actually, the one thing Treva and I have gotten right with our children is our openness to celebrate any plans they make for any holiday.  The welcome mat is always out at our home, but that is true whether it is associated to a holiday or not.

In the early days of our marriage, Treva and I always found Christmas in Odessa extremely stressful when we travelled home to be with family.  Maybe we should have been more proactive in figuring out a way to better manage maternal expectations on both sides related to how and where we spent our time.  Honestly, I never actually saw the “stop-watches”, but each mother knew to the minute if they weren’t getting their fair share of our time. The stress was awful. We resolved if we ever had children, we would orchestrate a different set of memories for them.  True to our word, I think we’ve pulled that one off pretty well. 

I am pretty excited about the open house we are hosting on Christmas Eve.  We generally host an open house in our home near Christmas, but this is the first time we’ve opted to do so on Christmas Eve.  I recognize that some folks (probably many) will have other familial plans already in place.  I guess the thought that we’re offering an option for folks who don’t have other plans makes me feel good.  At some level, I’m people needy.  I think we all are, but that may be projection on my part.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a friend about his plans for Christmas.  He mentioned that his wife was flying to another State to be with her family, but that he was going to opt to stay home and enjoy the time alone.  He went on to say his wife’s family are very close-knit and that the “stockings would be hung and filled with presents for everyone ”.  Actually, that not exactly the way he expressed it, but he did say he grew up with a very different frame of reference and the extravagance and materialism associated to Christmas made him uncomfortable.  Consequently, he was content to stay home and take care of the cats.  

This morning, simply thinking about Christmas brought many memories to mind.  The broad concept is pretty much the same, but the details have varied greatly.  Some have been terrific experiences, some have been filled with high levels of stress, and others have been associated to sadness.  I guess whatever is going on in our human pilgrimage factors over into thoughts associated to the Christmas when all those things were happening.

One evening last week, Andrea asked: “Dad, Do you remember the time you were recruited to be a wise man in the live nativity scene at the First Baptist Church in Midland?”  I thought she was joking.  Of course, I didn’t remember that.  It didn’t happen.  Treva remembered that it did.  Actually, it took about three days for me to connect the dots and remember that it really did.  I remember enough to know that it was bitterly cold outside.  A real wise man would never have said “Yes” to the invitation.

At any rate, Andrea went on to say that whoever was orchestrating the live nativity scene covered my face with make-up so that my face would show up.  Who knows?  That part I don’t remember.  At any rate, according to Andrea’s memory, I stopped by the grocery store on my way home.  I obviously had forgotten I was wearing makeup and ran into a friend in the grocery store. I gathered from what she shared, the friend didn’t think I looked like a wise man.

Another Christmas that stands out for me is one I could have orchestrated differently, but for whatever reason, I did not. It was during the period of time that I was commuting from Midland to Henly every weekend in order to be at church on Sunday.  My afternoon SWA flight on Christmas Eve had a layover in Dallas and a connecting flight to Austin.  I remember sitting the airport lobby in Dallas and being content to watch people.  I wondered where folks were traveling, with whom they were going to spend Christmas and if they were enjoying the expectations related to reaching their destination.  I could almost pick out the folks who were traveling out of a sense of delight in contrast to those who were traveling out of a sense of obligation.  You could see it in their body language.

When I got to Austin, I rented a car and headed to Henly. Actually, I probably stopped at a restaurant for dinner before I headed to Henly, but I don’t remember.  At the time, I had made arrangements to use a travel trailer belonging to a friend.  It was parked inconspicuously next to the well-house near the church.  It was dark and very cold when I arrived. I do remember that.  I went inside the trailer, plugged in an electric heater and then went back and got inside my rental car.  There were any number of homes in which I would have been welcomed, but I opted to spend Christmas Eve alone.  I didn’t want to take a risk of imposing.  I remember driving to Johnson City and then back to Henly.  By then, the inside of the trailer was warm.  Consequently it was a very different Christmas Eve for me.  I like people time better than alone time.  That is especially true on Christmas Eve.

All My Best!

Don

 

 

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