Christmas Eve was a beautiful day, and grew colder as the day progressed. I and my family watched the weather, wondering if we woud be “snowed out,” by the expected winter storm. Graciously, the storm held off, and “The Calhoun Family Quartet” was able to offer the music for our church’s 11 p.m. Candlelight Christmas Eve service. (There were four – 5, 7, 9, & 11 p.m. – and they were all very well attended, each unique and beautiful.) Matt and Josh headed back home after the service, about 40 minutes east of us here in Waynesville. Josh was set to leave early Christmas morning to head farther east to spend Christmas Day with his fiancée and her family. He left a little later than expected because the snow, which had started with a light flurry around 6 a.m., started coming down in earnest by 7 a.m. It quickly accumulated, and Josh had to do some digging before he finally got away. He said the roads were a bit iffy until he got far enough east. After he arrived, the snow caught up with him, and he was delayed getting back home until Tuesday evening.
We were expecting Matt and Suddie along with our Zoë to come and spend Saturday, Christmas Day, with us, as well as Adam and partner Dusty. Adam and Dusty had been with Dusty’s family on Friday (near Nashville, TN), and were heading east to be with us on Christmas Day. Matt, Suddie, and Zoë were set to arrive late that morning, after sharing a quiet family Christmas together with Zoë on her first. Snow intervened – on all counts – except our neighbor, Ron, was able to come over to eat gumbo with us. It was great having at least one visitor for the day. Matt called to say that not only was the snow falling heavily, but they had lost power. Not wanting to leave their dog behind in a cold house, and concerned about leaving the house unprotected, as well as driving with the baby in the car, they opted, with our sincere blessing, to stay at home. As the power did not come back on over night, they spent a rather miserable cold night together. It was still snowing Sunday morning. . .a lot. As a matter of fact, at our house the snow that began Saturday morning at 7 a.m. did not stop (at all) until about noon on Monday. Church services – and almost everything else – were canceled on Sunday. Snowfall amounts varied in the area, as they usually do, owing to the widely varying terrain, but we received about a foot altogether. High winds blew the light powdery snow about and created occasional “white-outs,” and considerable drifting. and it was very cold. Single digits and below zero. We are grateful that our power stayed on. Not wanting to disappoint us, Matt and family (including Suzy-Q, the dog) decided to brave the drive over on Sunday. They made it in good shape, in spite of snowy roads, and reported that their power came back on just as they were leaving. We enjoyed the gumbo together, (it’s always better the second day, anyway), but missed Adam and Dusty. They could not even get close. Alas, Adam headed back to Chicago and work today, and we didn’t get to visit with him this time around. Because the snow had continued to fall all Sunday afternoon, Matt and the girls left a little earlier than they had planned in order to get back before the hill approaching their house grew impassable. They got within a short distance of home, and couldn’t make it the rest of the way. Since Matt had to be at work Monday morning, they drove into Asheville and stayed at the Days Inn. Turned out they had to stay for two nights before their street became passable. So! It was an interesting weekend. I’ve already told you about digging out in order to make my Dr.’s appointment on Monday morning. (See Cast Off.)
I have related the above in order to tell you a bit about our little Zoë. The photo above is, as you can see, the Christmas card that she and her parents sent this year. What a face, and such a grin! When they arrived Sunday afternoon, having gone “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s (and Grandfather’s) house,” Zoë was starting to get a bit fussy. She was warm enough in her carrier, so we let her stay in it, while we all stood around adoringly. With my arm still casted at the time, I could hold her if someone gave her to me, but I couldn’t pick her up myself. Her parents soon became occupied in wrangling the dogs – ours and theirs – and left me alone with Zoë. She was not happy to see her Mommy leave the room, and she started to fuss some more. I wanted to see if I could get her settled, and initially failed miserably. I think my sticking my nose right in her face scared her. Small wonder. (What was I thinking?) Almost ready to concede defeat and call in the department heads, I decided to try one more thing. I started to sing.
Immediately, she stopped fretting and glued her eyes onto mine, staring in a wide-eyed wonder. Since I love to sing, I don’t know who was more delighted in that moment, but suspect that it was I.
Whatever song came to mind I sang. From my mother’s favorite lullabye, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” to “All the Pretty Little Horses,” and “Winken and Blinken and Nod.” And so many more. “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” and “There’s Within My Heart a Melody.” “Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say a Word,””Pirate Ships,” and “Bye-O Baby.” Zoë smiled, and Zoë watched and sucked on her fists with a look of pure delight. The “gig” I began when just leaning over her carrier, soon had me sitting on the floor, and rocking her gently. As long as I kept singing, she kept smiling. When I stopped to consider the next song, she gave me a look of consternation and started to fret again. I was hooked, and I didn’t care. I kept on. If other needs hadn’t intervened, I think I would still be singing, falling more in love than ever with this precious gift of God. I remembered singing to our own boys. I thought of parents all over the world who were singing to their own babes, and also of those parents who had lost their children to disease, starvation, thirst, injury, or war, and had only empty arms at this Christmas time. More than ever before I felt a deep gratitude for the moment, for the opportunity to share this sweet time of music and love with my grandchild. I will never receive any gift more treasured than those few minutes spent singing for Zoë.
Of course, you know that I have been reminded of something – when am I not? I want to share with you one of my favorite poems. I clipped it out of a magazine years ago and committed it to memory. Whenever I hear anyone try to describe Jesus as only divine, I think of this poem. I remember that his full humanity – in addition to his full divinity – is what makes him the accessible, tangible Image of God that he is. The poem is by Mary O’Neill:
When Jesus was a boy did he
Swing on the gates of Galilee,
Bring home foundling pups and kittens,
Scuff his sandals, lose his mittens,
Weight his pockets with a treasure
Adult eyes can never measure,
Scratch his hands and stub his toes
On rocky hills where cactus grows,
Set stones and quills and bits of thread
On the windowsill beside his bed
So that on waking he could see
All yesterday’s bright prophecy?
Did he play tag with the boys next door,
Tease for sweets at the grocery store,
Whittle and smooth a spinning top
In his father’s carpenter shop,
Run like wind to sail his kite,
Smile and sigh in his sleep at night,
Laugh with you in long-lost spings
About a thousand small endearing things?
Is he the one who said that you
Should always dye your dresses blue?
With eyes bright as cinnamon silk,
Red lips rimmed with a mist of milk,
Did he. . .lifting his earthen cup
Say “Just wait until I grow up!”?
I hope you all, my Gentle Readers, will take the opportunity to acknowledge the joy that comes in the simple, everyday moments of your lives. More than ever, I wish you enough. . .