In my post “Christmas in Poverty”. I said that we would eat for our Christmas meal those things that we had donated to the local Community Outreach program or CRO.
We did this not to glorify ourselves but to prove to the kids who celebrate with us that a “feast” isn’t required to have a wonderful Christmas meal.
We had great friends over, we made a meal of the same 9 items that we donated to the CRO. We never mentioned it again after the blog post on the topic. We didn’t restrict friends to the same standard. They brought desserts and things that were made at home to share with our family. They used whatever they had. We didn’t make a big deal of it over the meal or in front of the kids. We just celebrated the birth of Jesus together.
What we discovered was something that I both expected and was surprised by. We had a wonderful day. We talked about thousands of things through the day but no one mentioned the food except to tell us that it was wonderful as always. Folks went back for second helpings of the things they liked. When we finished the night there were leftovers of everything which we ate the next day. Just like every Christmas.
What I didn’t expect to discover by doing this was a comfort. What I didn’t expect to find was a joy that someone, somewhere, enjoyed a great Christmas meal that we donated. We know that they had a great meal because we had the same one and it was, without a doubt, fantastic. It was, against all expectations, a feast in its own right. That lesson is more valuable, I think, than anything that I hoped to teach. The donation really did make a difference. Too often we drop a quarter in the Salvation Army bucket and forget where it goes. What good it does. This year, we know.
The meal was awesome. We had things that WE didn’t have when we lived in poverty. We had things that were new to our Christmas table. Some of them we didn’t like but more because they were different than “substandard” so… yeah.
The most awesome part of the day for me was the blessing before our meal. If you’ve read here you know that we sometimes ask the young folks to ask for a blessing at our table but we never allow them to do so over a celebration meal. Those meals are important to me and I want things done right. Sunday I asked Ms Samantha’s husband to pray over my Christmas table.
They’ve been dating for three years. He’s eaten here many times and asked for blessings at my table several times. But this one was different. This one he prayed as a man as he stood holding his new bride’s hand. His prayer was exactly what was needed and was perfect. It wasn’t quite a “right of passage” but it was special to me and maybe it’ll become a new tradition for us.
As the day wound down will@home and I sat on the patio next to a big fire and talked about another great thing that is happening in my life this week. We talked about God and how he is moving in our lives. We talked about the gifts that we’ve been granted. Just two friends, he in an old patio chair wearing a knitted Viking helmet that his wife made and me with my suit put away and wearing just jeans, boots and an old flannel shirt and sitting on cinderblocks near the fire. As the fire died and the cold seeped in we marveled at the gifts that we’ve been granted. We talked about what a great Christmas this has been.
Occasionally our voices would break or quiver just a bit from the joy that we feel in life. We pretended not to notice or to assume that it was just a chill from the cool evening air. Men can do that… ignore, pretend.
That’s what Christmas was like for us this year… perfect. For the fourth time in as many weeks I feel the need to use the word “sublime” in my description of the day. And it was. Sublime in every way.