Silence is golden. I’m thankful that Katrina added water to our large fish aquarium in the living room last night before going to bed. Yesterday the sound was atrocious, as if I were on a white water rafting trip while trying to concentrate on my reading. Perhaps at times it is nice to hear that sound, but when I am basking in the golden glow of solitude it is less than desirable.
On the other hand, the wind chime outside is delightful. As I look out the French doors and see the remaining leaves on the trees waving in the cool breeze, the melodic sounds of the wind chime provide secondary evidence of the blustery winter outside. A few large oak branches display what is left of the white Christmas God blessed us with, which has still not completely melted away. Yes, winter came with the vengeance this week. Perhaps the Mayan calendar got it wrong predicting the end of the world last week, but our calendar on the wall was quite right when it predicted the first day of winter. It’s here.
What is the matter with me? Now that we have gotten near the end of this never-ending feasting binge, my body is asking me what I am doing to it. My head has been pounding, which I attribute a great deal to my sinuses. My stomach has not known the feeling of emptiness for quite some time. I suppose I am suffering from junk food overload.
Yes, Christmas is over and done with again, at least the main part of the gluttony, gathering and gift-giving. The aftermath has still not been dealt with, such as collecting all of the decorations and packing them away. I’m not sure what we taught the kids about not getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all again this year, but we certainly tried to tone it down a bit from previous years.
We came to the conclusion last year that we would no longer participate in the Santa lie. There, I said it. Yes, it’s just a big hoax. Having intellectual children who continue to age and challenge why we do things the way we do was no small contributor to that. Not to mention that we have gone to great lengths to teach them the real meaning of Christmas, which is about the birth of our savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. However, our youngest is still trying to put it all together in her wee mind. Then again, maybe I still am, too.
On the Sunday before Christmas we spent the day with my family, enjoying the fellowship, gift-giving and feasting there. The moment we arrived we were greeted by Santa (Grandpa), and Mrs. Claus (Grandma). Santa was sitting in his chair, and Mrs. Claus had her camera in hand, ready for everyone to line up for photos. The most excited of them all was our little Olivia. She was all aglow with excitement and wonder, ready to see what Santa had in store for her. One had to wonder what was going through her mind as she sat on the lap of Santa and Grandpa all at the same time, listening to his cheery voice and seeing his real, very white, winter beard.
After everyone had their turn with Santa (even some of the reluctant big kids), we turned to unwrapping scores of presents, and then the feasting began full swing, although most of us had already been grazing like cows in the trough. One plate after another we gobbled up a plethora of sweets and junk food until we settled into an afternoon slumber, asking ourselves “what have I done to myself?” After we had all but given up on the food, Olivia and Grandpa began what seemed like a contest of who could do the best Santa impression. Olivia donned a Santa cap and began doing her best rendition of “Ho, Ho, Ho”, and as everyone looked on with laughter, it seemed to fuel her energy to do it more and more, with Grandpa throwing in his version every once in a while.
The excitement eventually died down as it neared time to return home, and the kids were given the orders to get more to eat if they wanted it, because as I always say, “You better eat now. This is dinner and we’re not eating when we get home!” They seem to always comply, which they did, and hugs and thanks were exchanged and we were on our way.
On Christmas Eve morning we woke up and began preparing for our second day of celebration with Katrina’s family. With no reduced amount of excitement the kids were all ready to make the short trek to Nana’s house to fill their stomachs with all manner of goodies once again, not to mention open a present or two there as well. After a full afternoon of feasting and fun with Nana and Papa, we finally arrived home to settle in for our own Christmas.
It was quite nice to sit down at home on Christmas Eve and know that most everything was in place, including our donuts that the kids and I had traveled to the bakery to retrieve that morning. The chocolate milk was on hand in the fridge, right next to the turkey thawing for the Christmas day feast. What more could you ask for? A fire.
As everyone else was pillaging through things they had gotten from all of their grandparents, I began stirring through the ashes in the fireplace to get a warm fire blazing. I went through my usual routine, rolling up old newspapers, adding the kindling, and then adding a stick or two of small pieces of wood. With the perfect combination of combustible materials, I struck the match and stepped back.
One problem. We noticed that the living room began filling with smoke. As the fire caught on rather quickly, I had but a moment to figure out what the problem was. I’m kinda lazy when it comes to closing the flue once we build our first fire of the season (which we already had), so I didn’t think that could be the problem. Nonetheless, I reached up quickly and gave it a yank, and to my surprise, it had been closed. “Hmm, that’s odd”, I said to myself, as the smoke began charting its course up the chimney.
I quickly got the ceiling fans running at a low roar to evacuate the smoke, and then began asking who closed the flue. I knew that most of the kids probably didn’t even know there was one, but being the one to always want to get to the bottom of things, I asked around and got no immediate answers.
After giving up on the “Whodunit” game, I sat down in front of my blazing creation and enjoyed its magnificent warmth. Soon, Olivia came and sat down beside me, happy to have the fire as well. After sitting there for a moment, she leaned over to me and said in her little quiet voice, “I closed it, Daddy. I was scared that Grandpa would come down the chimney and get burned by the fire.”
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
Written by David Steen, with God smiling, December 29, 2012