Christmas Eve is approaching, and this year Mike and I are hosting. Naturally, this event causes no small amount of anxiety on my part. Some people like to host. They're good at hosting. I'm not one of those people. Well, I suppose that I'm not *bad* at it, but I definitely don't thrive in doing it.
I'm Martha. You know, the one that was in the kitchen, spouting vicious obscenities while covered in flour and cleaning the kitchen, as her sister Mary lounges angelically at Jesus' feet? I just can't help it - having all those people in my house makes me incredibly nervous. And see, already? I make it sound like random marauders are going to invade my house at approximately 6 pm on Thursday. These are my FAMILY members. Yet it still drives me to drink.
Based on years past, I can predict how events will transpire:
The evening before and the morning of Christmas Eve, I will drive Mike crazy as I fritter around the house and clean, straighten, and bake with the sublety of a tornado.
We will go to the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass. Hank will drive us a bit crazy, and we'll come home tense and cranky. Then I will open the box (yes, BOX) of wine and commence to drink it. I will drink just enough so that I'm loosened up and (somewhat; it's tough to break through a steel wall with a hammer and chisel) more laid back for when everyone arrives. I will put my last minute things in the oven and set the food out. I will sip more wine.
As people begin to arrive, I will begin to sweat. I will get caught up in a flurry of getting drinks for everyone, putting coats upstairs in the master bedroom (and NOT the more visible downstairs guest room, which I want to use for seating space. It's not going to be easy shoe horning 20 people into my house), taking things out of the oven and likely burning myself, and attempting to prevent Hank from depositing the contents of his toy box in the middle of the living room floor and making it appear as though a bomb went off in there. I will lose all of these battles. I will sip more wine.
In the midst of all this, my well-intentioned mother will arrive to help me, and inevitably she will dump 10 shopping bags full of things I don't need onto my kitchen floor. I will have to deal with placing aforementioned items out of the way as people step over me to access the drinks. My mom will ask me lots and lots of questions, a child may vomit, and my anxiety level will peak. I may move on to scotch.
Everyone will eat, and I will remain nervously fluttering about the kitchen. By time I stick a cube of cheese onto my plate, all guests will be done eating and want dessert and presents. The clean-up process will begin, during which time a dozen women will try to squeeze into my kitchen and wash dishes. Present opening chaos will begin in the other room. By the time all dishes are washed and presents opened, will I be tired? Nope. I will be strung out on adrenaline waiting for everybody to leave so that I can attack the floors with a broom and vacuum cleaner and dust the coffee table.
I am, in a word, insane.
All the news this week about Brittany Murphy passing away from a heart attack at 32 years old has got me to thinking. I need to chill out. One day (hopefully in the far distant future) I will no longer be here. And at that point, am I going to care that my house is clean and exactly the way I want it, finally? Or am I going to cherish the memory of a Christmas with my family esconsed in my wonderful home? With my uncle, healed from cancer and physically and spiritually thriving? With the knowledge that his daughter, my cousin, is also thriving and healed from a bout with cancer, expecting her second beautiful child? With both of my mom's parents still here and celebrating with us, married for the past 61 years?
I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm not quite 35 years old, and I have a loving family and supportive group of friends, an adoring husband, a beautiful child, a warm home, a faith that I love, a career that I enjoy, and hobbies that I cherish. A person really can't ask for any more than that in life. And at Christmas, we are called to look upon our lives and appreciate how they all reflect the Saviour. So, I'm going to try to do that.
My Living Faith passage for the 4th Sunday of Advent has an appropriate reflection:
"For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. Luke 1:44-45
I am struck by the vulnerability in the story of Mary's visit to Elizabeth. Mary, traveling alone to the hill country; by Elizabeth, having a baby in her old age; by Mary, pregnant and unmarried in a culture where she could be stoned to death.
Perhaps I notice vulnerability because there seems such precariousness in the human family at this time. In these days near Christmas, when there is so much traveling to the homes of loved ones, I pray that we can greet each other like Mary and Elizabeth in trust and gratitude even in our vulnerability. May we remind each other: Blessed are we who believe that what was spoken to us by the Lord would be fulfilled - God is with us! May our spirits leap for joy."
On Thursday, I will be vulnerable. But I pray that I can focus on the proper things and appreciate and cherish good fellowship, as Mary and Elizabeth did during their pregnancies. I always loved that accounting - even the mother of our Lord needed to seek out her cousin to lift her spirits during a difficult and confusing time. At Christmas and always, I pray that I strive to see the Lord's face.