Anybody who knows me knows I typically get really excited for Christmas. I’m a big overgrown kid. I like the excitement and buildup before Christmas. I love setting up the big Nativity scene, although I do tend to be somewhat mischievous. Who needs an Elf on a Shelf when you can have a sheep on the inn’s roof?
But this year wasn’t one of those years. I didn’t have that sense of innocence or the childlike buildup of excitement. I couldn’t quite say why. Even sneaking a velociraptor in with the wise men’s camels didn’t bring me the same joy as it had in the past. The weather was unseasonably warm. And too many days were cloudy, gray, rainy or foggy or all of the above. Somehow that sort matched how I felt. A little lost, a little foggy, and decidedly unsettled. You have to understand, I love fog. I love when I can’t see what I know is only a few feet away from me. But I wasn’t loving it so much when I was foggy on the inside. Spending all of Advent with the threat of unpredictable tears wasn’t helping much. The kicker came on Sunday before Christmas. I was walking through the food store when I’ll Be Home For Christmas came on the store radio. I finished my food shopping with tears streaming down my face. But the lightbulb finally clicked on.
My mother had been saying for months that going to another church for Christmas Eve Mass after 29 years at our old parish was going to be traumatic. There was no way to make it not traumatic and so, in a logical fashion, I made all the necessary firm, rational explanations that I have made since we switched to the new parish on the Sunday after Easter. But hearing Bing Crosby crooning about home brought up all the old memories and all the feelings attached to them. For the first time since my Dad died, I would be spending Christmas Eve in the simple little church that he had loved. We’ve been there for eight months now but somehow being there for Christmas made that change of location suddenly very real and very solid. At the same time it was also very unsettling and I am unsettled enough thank you very much. I’m not quite sure what home really means anymore and that’s kinda scary since I’m Mom and therefore it’s my job to make everything alright for the boys. I was actually terrified of somehow screwing up Christmas.
Christmas Eve came and we settled into our pew. The choir sang for a bit before Mass and they sang was the carol I was named after: Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella. My Dad loved that song and thus my middle name is Jeanette. By the time that song was finished, I realized the fog inside had lifted. I now could see what I had known was right in front me all along: I was in the right place. I saw the same sense of peace touch my Mom and each of the boys at different points during the service and by the time Mass was over, I knew for certain I had managed to get us all home for Christmas and the only trauma involved was the foggy fear of the unknown.
Trust is not my strong suit. And spending all of Advent feeling lost in the fog and at the same time knowing the only thing to do was keep moving forward required trust. So as I sit here sipping my tea on this gray day after Christmas, I thank God for bringing me through the fog. And at the same time remind Him this would be a lot easier for me if He’d just go along with my need for control and call it a day. But I’m guessing that probably isn’t going to happen and I suppose part of me knows that might be for the best.