I am usually beyond wiped out on Christmas Day. Along with the Christmas Eve services, there’s the Eucharist and breakfast at Vila’s. On all the other years, I woke up close to dawn to get the Posole heating on the stove and to gather everything we needed for the breakfast. María in particular was short-changed—presents got opened in a hurry and my eye was on my watch through most of that early morning, preocupied to get things started for the Vila’s service. Last year, with our daughter gone and no Christmas decorations out except a small tree on one table, it didn’t even matter—Christmas was one more day I simply needed to get through.
This year, a particularly kind person from All Saints volunteered to get things started early in the morning for me. And my girl. My beautiful, funny, silly girl. She has been doing so well for the past 10 days that her support team and we agreed that she could be with us not just for Christmas and sleep over until today—we all agreed that she was in good enough shape to spend Christmas Eve and last night at our house. She went with her daddy to the 4 o’clock service at All Saints, where she got to be an angel in the pageant. She was with me for Midnight Mass. Our choir director allowed her to lead us in the old Spanish hymn, “Peces en el Río”. María has been singing this song since I first met her in México in 1998 and to sit in my little church, with lights twinkling and so much beauty all around, getting to hear her clear, sweet voice, was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
Yesterday morning, I had the unheard of luxury of sleeping until 8:15, when María’s hand on my shoulder, gently shaking me, finally woke me up. We opened gifts slowly and happily. She said, “I know you were Santa Claus for me. Since you are looking for a new job, maybe you can go to the North Pole and be the real Santa Claus. That would be a good job!” Indeed, María. W. from All Saints as well as the other volunteers ensured the morning service at Vila’s went beautifully. When it was all done, I got home and got to have a long, wonderful nap and lazy afternoon.
The house is sort-of a wreck and though this year, I managed to muster the energy to get a real Christmas tree, I had not put out any other decorations. When Sherod began to move towards fixing the first real meal of the day in the early evening, something went very quietly joyful in me. I pulled out the corn husk Nativity set one of my mom’s dear friends gave me shortly after we married. And a pair of Swedish candle sticks and candles that had been my mom’s. I polished some silverware and set the table. A Christmas table.
When we sat down to eat, I started the blessing and prayed for Marta Isabel, Ann and Juanita, our three mothers, all of them in heaven this year. We prayed a bit more, said amen and started eating. Until María stopped us, grabbed our hands and said she had one more prayer. She thanked God for several of the staff members at BARC by name and asked God to be with all the people who live with her in A House.
Amidst so much else, love and hope made flesh.