This past weekend we went to Birmingham to have and early Christmas with my parents. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to make it, even though we’d been planning to go because Halle woke up Thursday morning with a pretty high fever. Even Friday afternoon as we were preparing to leave, her temp. was 103. It seems really bad but I had to consider that my kids just run a high fever when they’re sick. It’s what we do. I also had to consider that there was a possibility of having a miserably sick kid in the car for the 3-ish hour drive. We’ve done that before and it’s miserable for everybody. In the end though it was all fine. Well, Daisy isn’t exactly a seasoned traveler yet and that got a bit messy- ick. Poor Travis.
We arrived at my parents pretty late so my Dad was already in bed. We waited for Amanda and Brian to get there and chatted (read: talked and laughed really loudly) for a bit before heading to bed.
The next morning Travis and I went Christmas shopping for several hours while my parents watched the kids and Daisy. My parents have a huge fenced in yard that Daisy could run and play in but she chose to stay on the side porch because she knew the people were inside. I love my puppy. She would only go into the yard if someone went with her. Travis decided to race her at one point and she beat him. I guess that shouldn’t have been a surprise but Daisy is not the most graceful dog I’ve ever seen. She is the prettiest though, in my completely unbiased opinion. Back to our trip…
Saturday night we went to my Aunt Cristy and Uncle Paul’s house. I always love visiting because my Aunt makes everyone feel so welcome. We chatted with relatives for a bit and settled into the living room and somehow ended up watching The Funniest Commercials of 2010. I think my youngest cousin was in charge of the remote control then. And it struck me how comfortable I was and that I was having fun just watching TV with my family.
At dinner we sat at a table with my immediate family and my cousin and his son (who is also my cousin, probably my first cousin once removed but that’s pretty wordy to put into a sentence). It was the first time Travis and I had to catch up with my parents. We talked and guffawed and Dad asked me to tell Brian the story of how Travis and I got together. I made sure to embellish for comedic effect. We also told Amanda stories for Brian. I get such a kick out of that. I love telling Amanda stories. They are almost as fun to tell as Richard stories (my Dad).
Sunday was church and we found out that it was the Sunday for their Christmas program. Now, my parents go to a small Assemblies of God church in Woodstock, AL. My Dad actually had a part in a little drama they were doing. I wasn’t sure If I’d even make it into the sanctuary in time because we’d stopped in at Starbuck’s on our way to church but found out that drinks aren’t allowed in the sanctuary. I suppose I’ve been at NewSong long enough to forget that a lot of churches don’t actually have coffee carts in the entry and don’t want you bringing it inside. Amanda, Brian and I tried the gulping method but our coffee was still really hot and well, it wasn’t all that effective. Finally the ushers said to take it inside but hide it. Those were really good guys, I should bake them cookies.
As worship started I was a bit distracted. It’s easy for me to miss things when I’m thinking. And this year, as in years past, I’ve thought about how pointless things are. My Mom does things big for Christmas. Every nook and cranny of her house is decorated in some form and when Travis and I got married I also had big plans of decorating every bit of our home. A serious lack of money thwarted my plans year after year after year though. And as it did and I let thing after thing go I started to feel like it was all just pointless. I found out that we didn’t actually have to have a Christmas tree every year. Most years our trees were given to us until a few years ago my parents bought an artificial tree for us. I went through the motions of Christmas production after Christmas production being stressed out of my mind at the number of rehearsals and performances to be done. Such is the life of a vocalist. Until I’d gotten so sick that I couldn’t be in the choir anymore. It was too difficult to commit to making it to rehearsals and I found no joy in it anyway. Everything was a chore. Nothing was significant. None of it meant anything to me. Music was too painful to listen to because it wasn’t part of my life anymore.
And Sunday at a tiny church in Woodstock, Alabama, during a rushed weekend spent with my family it changed. My family took up and entire pew and half of the pew in front of us. I laughed out loud at the original drama that was performed. The performer in me was surprised at how well written and fun it was. I cried as the youth group performed a silhouette interpretation of “Mary Did You Know” and felt all warm and fuzzy as the kids sang “Happy Birthday Jesus”. And it meant something to me. And it was important. My heart felt full in a way that it hadn’t in years.
I suppose if I ask the question, “What is important?” Then God is more than capable of letting me know. I had more fun this weekend than I have in recent memory. And honestly, I love fun. I grew up in central Florida…it’s all about fun. But my definition of it has gone far beyond Mickey Mouse and beaches. I haven’t discovered everything that’s important. I still have so many questions. I expected the gnawing of what’s to come to subside but it hasn’t. I feel like I have a piece of the puzzle though. I feel like I’ve been given the gift of enjoying Christmas again. It’s been a long time. And I’m very thankful.