...he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious! Glorious!
"What's to-day?" cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.``
"Eh?" returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.
"What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge.
"To-day?" replied the boy. "Why, Christmas Day!"
"It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself. "I haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can..."
This is going to be a very different sort of Christmas for us. It will just be our nuclear (or nucular, if your last name is Bush) family. I have had mixed emotions about this (the holiday and the Bush family). We will miss our extended families very much. Still, I welcome, with hearty embrace, the opportunity to form and/or seal our own traditions this holiday season. As the day draws closer, I can actually feel my excitement growing. It’s been a while.
Midweek I helped deliver Angel Tree gifts and baked goods to the children of inmates. I have to say, it wasn't entirely what I expected. I'm not sure what I expected. But, it was really wonderful all the same.
For a variety of reasons, we have had to budget more conservatively this year. Ordinarily this wouldn't be such a big deal because our children would be overloaded with packages from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins galore! I think our tree has a total of about 8 presents beneath it as I type. None of them are terribly impressive. I hear Santa is bringing something really cool. That old coot will be getting credit for the big excitement on Christmas day. Oh well. His gift is consistent with our thinking this year. We want our big Christmas gift to each other to be about family and quality time.
As for our gifts to friends, we baked. It was fun time with the kids. We mixed batter, decorated cookies, loaded the goodies into tins... the whole thing. We wanted the gifts truly to be from all of us. We spent a good deal of our allotted Christmas funds on our other gift to family and friends. This gift is another first for us. Tuesday night, Kris, the boys and I signed cards that began...
This season, we, as a family, have chosen to give our gifts, not to you, but from a heart and shared evangelistic passion along with you...
Instead of shopping for dozens of people who, like ourselves, need very little, we made a sizable donation in the names of these persons to an international organization, providing Bibles to individuals and families worldwide. I know, I know… it all sounds so very George Costanza and the “human fund.” But hey, we figure since God has so generously demonstrated His love to each of us through the gift of His Son, the least we could do is give the hope of that gift to others this season.
There are a couple of people on the list who may not appreciate their gift so much this year. Ah, but they won't be able to say anything. To show disdain for something like this would be selfish and tacky. [insert satisfied, evil laugh here] Seriously though, a few of the cards have already been received and have, so far, met with heartfelt smiles and warm, generous gratitude.
Funny thing is, I'm not really sure I cared all that much what people thought. Of course I hope the gift represents something of value to each recipient. Regardless, this is what we felt we should do, what we wanted to do. At least for this year, it was the right thing to do. And a season that, in the past, has largely fed my frustration and cynicism concerning the exploitation and churchification of God's gifts to humanity, has become a real joy to me. [Yes, you read that right. I’m not talking about the secularization of Christmas in the world market. It seems to me the church has gratuitously commercialized Christ’s birth, reducing God’s astounding sacrifice for mankind to warm, fuzzy images of angels and shepherds and wise men and children singing “Silent Night” softly by candlelight and pageants starring flannel board caricatures and “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” bumper stickers. But, that said, I retire, take a deep breath and walk purposefully away from my soapbox.] In fact, I'm not even approaching this Sunday's kid's choir screechfest and cat-killing with the usual dread. I think something's wrong with me Marley. Quick, call Bob Cratchit!