“Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” 1879, by Luc-Olivier Merson.
I’m taking the week off from writing. While black bears and moose couldn’t stop me, the two tiny tots arriving tomorrow have a way of stopping all progress.
This Christmas season has been one of trial among my friends. That includes a homeless family, a dead son, and a friend with advanced cancer.
“You don’t have to look very far to count your blessings,” my mother would say. I would in turn wonder why it is only in the face of others’ disasters that we remember to thank God for our own safe-passage. But that’s how our minds work.
I grew up in a home where joy was muffled by grief. Christmas, like no other season, was when the pain came poking through the shroud. My mother checked out by working through the holiday; my father checked out by drinking through it. Parents model a lot of things to their kids, and one of them is how to be happy.
Grief teaches us that happiness is a tissue so fine that it can crumble in our hands. Peace teaches us that this doesn’t matter, that we must learn to accept our moments of joy regardless of our fear.
It’s not enough to just enumerate one’s blessings—we must also live them. Mine are mostly going to be here this week. So rather than work, I’m going to play with babies, cook with my daughters, and even watch TV with them.
Immanuel—God with us—takes many forms. A Merry Christmas to you all.