Christmas at the McDermotts was at my mother’s house every year I can remember as an adolescent and later as an adult. Grandmother’s lipstick kisses on the cheeks when I was younger, and uncles with their vice grip handshakes. The conversations that devolve into debates. The hunters and the animal rights activists. The liberals and conservatives, evangelicals, and “the ones being prayed for.” Hipsters, business execs, doctors, ministers, a physicist, and always a few strangers (“Tommy, these are your step-cousins thrice removed on your ex-stepmom’s side. They’re in town for the holiday!”). And the SCA nephew (Society for Creative Anachronism), the current “High Lord for the North Texas Region,” with his queen and squire children I guess. Turkey and spaghetti. Music and mayhem. Wine and beer. Oil and water. It doesn’t seem like it ought to mix. And sometimes it barely holds . . . But it always does.
I’m reminded of my Grandfather’s dark oak, roll top desk in his office at home. As a kid, that’s the first place I ran to once past the chaotic Christmas greetings at the front door. My grandmother always warned, “You can check out the top drawers but don’t go in the bottom ones.” I’d open the small top drawers, one of which always held the gold pocket watch the BNSF Railway Company gave him in appreciation for all the medical care he gave rail workers in his practice. I still have that watch.
Then, of course, I opened the bottom drawer, which Mimi knew I would do, because she placed kids’ storybooks there. One of my favorites was a story called “The Mitten,” about a little boy who loses a mitten in the snow and forest animals try to make room as one by one they stretch its boundaries beyond belief so they can all fit inside.
The Christmas Story always brings to mind that quiet stable, “because there was no room in the inn.” And all those curious folks, none of whom should “technically” (nor typically) have been there — together. We tend to view Nativity scenes with such sentimentalism that we miss the irony and awkwardness (even the subversive reality) of the moment. As odd as the setting is, it’s somehow the way of hope for the world. And maybe it’s because angels informed them all ahead of time, “Go see this strange thing. It’s holy! It’s God with us!” Maybe that simple encouragement, that reminder, was all the mixed crowd needed to realize, to see, God was right there, in their midst.
So, making room for this vision in our lives may be the key to finding holiness in the midst of the odd assortment and clash of people whose lives we encounter daily, and at Christmas.
This Sunday will be our last time to be together in eleven:eleven (this year!), and we’ve planned an especially joyful and inspiring Sunday of music, storytelling, and celebration. It is usually a full room the last Sunday of Advent, so I hope you’ll come early to visit with one another and enjoy some Christmas Holiday Favorites with Brad Thompson and the Revolution Band. We’ll also have hot cider and coffee as well as some pastries on hand.
We’ll sing some Carols and hear the comic interpretations of Improv 1st. I’ll try to uncover a little of that humorous “truth which is stranger than fiction” when it comes to some of our family stories at Christmas Time. And we’ll all experience the inspiration and wonder of Minnesota singer-songwriter, Peter Mayer, as we make our way to the joy and hope of Christmas during these longest nights of the year.
I hope you can join in as we open our doors to that great mystery of love in our midst and wish one another a joyful Christmas and a wonder-filled new year!
Sunday, December 20, 11:11 am
“Joseph – The Great Family of Life”
Storytelling, the comic interpretations of Improv 1st,
and the musical/lyrical genius of
Come early (10:45 am) for hot cider, coffee, pastries, and
“Holiday Favorites” with
Brad Thompson and the Revolution Band