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I came back from vacation yesterday and got smacked in the face.  Apparently Christmas is less than two days away.  No, I have not done my Christmas shopping.  No, I have not paid nearly as much attention to Advent as I wanted to (yet again).  No, I do not feel the jolly, warmth of Christmas Spirit bubbling up within me.  Not because I am particularly against warm bubbly feelings, I just haven’t had time to get them simmering yet.

So on this Christmas Eve’s eve, I reflect.

I am cooking the Bird for L’arche Hamilton’s Christmas Day Feast.  A large portion of our community will be spending the holidays with family members or close friends, but the sixteen of us who will be here in the various L’arche homes will be gathering for a special meal on Christmas Day, and I am responsible for what one core member has informed me is the most important part of his Christmas.  I have not prepared a turkey on my own before.  (Though I do believe there was an instance in Katimavik involving a turkey and an oven set to 500 degrees.  But I don’t think we ate that one.)  My back-up plan this year is to show up with a large roasting pan full of bacon and scrambled eggs if something catastrophic happens in the kitchen.

By far, one of the best things leading up to the 25th has been singing Christmas carols with Bev and Charlie while Brian orchestrates from the couch.  Laurence is always the captive audience member, applauding graciously and with a huge grin at the close of our performance.  Silent Night and Away In a Manger are our strengths.  We get almost all the words right, though not necessarily in the same order, and certainly not in the same key.  Charlie, who has an incredibly high falsetto singing voice, comes in strong on the “I love thee Lord Jesus” verse in Away In A Manger, and Bev can hit some rather high notes herself in Silent Night.  She also performs a powerful solo on The First Noel.

There are days that feel like we are everything but silent and holy.  We lack stillness and calm, especially in the hectic Christmas preparations and the emotions the holiday stirs in some of us.  Our house is not always one of peace.  But we have our moments.  Gracious, loud and off-key moments, that pull me in and renew my spirit.  When I think I have found a new level of depth in my relationship with each core member, they find a way to pull me deeper.  I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else this Christmas than here with folks who have no where else to be, but here with me.  I am the one receiving the gift.

In all things, Immanuel.

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