Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Christmas to remember

We had a beautiful Christmas Eve.

The day went so smoothly. We had attended the vigil Mass Saturday evening, for the fourth Sunday of Advent, so we slept in a little (well, everyone but Ramona and me.) We completed last-minute preparations (Atticus always seems to end up wrapping presents on Christmas Eve) and made a couple of desserts.

There was no last-minute racing around in order to be ready for Christmas Eve Mass, at which my daughters would sing with the choir. We were even ready early, in time for me to snap a few pictures at a leisurely pace.

We were at Mass quite early, so that we could have our choice of seats (close to the choir, of course) but for an hour, Ramona happily played with the stickers and looked at books. She was an angel throughout Mass, and Anne and Betsy looked so sweet and lovely to me as they sang my favorite Christmas carols.

We drove home the long way, taking a tour of lights, and had our traditional, delicious appetizers for dinner.

All day long, I'd had a profound sense of peace and calm. I kept expecting something to rattle me (the picture-taking session? Often a culprit ....) but as the evening continued on, nothing did. What was wrong with me? There are usually several great irritations that surround "big days" and yet, this year something was different.

Even being up most of the night with poor, so-excited-she-couldn't-sleep, and then-sick-feeling Betsy (who had a stomach cramp that was so bad we actually considered an ER visit at one point) did not take away my sense that everything was as it should be. (And, I should note, the ER turned out to be unnecessary and by morning she felt normal again and had a great Christmas day, thank goodness.)

In all of this, I realized something.

I realized that I was actually practicing what I preach.

I saw that I was indeed keeping things in their proper perspective and that the only thing that mattered was the coming of the Christ Child, both on this night, and two-thousand years ago. None of the external trappings mattered. And, in reflecting back on the day, I could see that there were minor irritations here and there, but that I didn't really feel them as such. It seemed to me that I'd been objectively dealing with them, the way one might do the dishes or scrub a floor. Things just need to be attended to, and so we do them. But, I hadn't allowed anything to unsettle the peace that had settled deeply in my soul.

And so, I can honestly say that it was not a perfect Christmas. And ... it was perfect in every way.


Jennifer said...

That is it exactly!! That is why everything was fine here as well. I let the dishes slide and tripped over markers and toy tractors, but it was still peaceful and happy. Our only Christmas Mass was the televised one, but we experienced it together and it was beautiful. While my son was sick and needed to just lay with me, I forgot about the chores and prayed the rosary instead. I couldn't figure out why I was happy in the midst of all this, but you said it perfectly here.

mary said...

what a wonderful feeling! my sister is always telling me, 'let nothing disturb your peace.' i keep working at it! it's good to hear that you have achieved it on what can often be such a chaotic day.

Kristen Laurence said...

How wonderful--that does sound perfect! May all our days be so peaceful.

meredith said...

Perfectly perfect!! Happy New Year!

Alice Gunther said...

Karen, this is perfect.

Merry Christmas!