When I look back at this Christmas, I imagine I will be able to figure out what I was to have learned from it, and what lessons life and God might have wanted to teach me. But for now, I'm still trying to process a Christmas that has been at once full of wonderful things and full of unusual things. It's been up and down.
Christmas Eve breakfast with the family (a tradition) was great. As usual. And Matt and I did last-minute shopping errands in the snow (beautiful!) before coming home to relax for a couple hours before I had to be at church.
Christmas Eve church was also wonderful. The high school guys who helped me with a silly skit during the family service were fantastic, and the youth who did the readings at the second service were equally as fantastic. All four services went well, and even though I was EXHAUSTED at the end, and my feet were sore from standing around in heels all afternoon and evening, I went home happy and excited. Matt had made the traditional post-Christmas-Eve-worship sloppy joes, and we ate and watched Christmas concerts on TV before hitting bed around 2am.
I got a text from my dad around 4:30 that said, "It's 4am and I am finally home from the ER. Several vials of blood and xrays proved a circulatory infection, lacking a better term, called vasculitis." Apparently he developed a fever and an ugly rash late in the evening, and went to the hospital after church. I was half-asleep and it was all very surreal, but more than once in our short exchange of bleary-eyed texts, he said "All is well."
I woke up exceedingly tired on Christmas Day, therefore. I went to church, preached, and then we headed to my parents' house. My dad was tired, and looking much like he was fighting some flu-like infection all day, but we had a lovely afternoon of opening presents, listening to Christmas music, and generally relaxing. We cooked together and played video games, and it was a a little unusual, but still enjoyable.
Yesterday, Dad was feeling good enough to come with the rest of the family to my church, to worship together and to hear me sing Dad's Christmas song (he writes one every year) in worship. Matt and I had lunch with friends of mine from high school, and then headed back over to my parents, because my sister and husband who live in Minneapolis were getting into town. We all went downtown Chicago for our yearly visit to the Marshall Fields (Macy's) Christmas tree, and again, Dad was tired, but generally fine. My older sister and family came over later, and we opened another round of presents and ate a late dinner together. I was feeling more exhausted than I really wanted to, and worried about Dad, but by the time we all went to bed, again, we were all tired but generally fine.
This morning, Matt was supposed to fly to NJ, and I was supposed to fly out tomorrow. But with all the crazy blizzards that the east coast has been hit with, his flight was canceled, and he's now not flying out until Wednesday. Meanwhile, my dad was feeling worse again today, went back to the ER, and was admitted to the hospital with what appears to be some unidentified infection. So now he's going to be there overnight, and I really don't want to fly out tomorrow, without Matt and with my dad still in the hospital, but it is impossible to get through to the airlines via phone to discuss changing my flight.
So in summary...Christmas thus far has been full of music and family (good things!), but I have been more exhausted than I had bargained for (seriously tired), flights to New Jersey have been complicated, and my Dad's been sick with two different hospital stints. This Christmas has definitely not gone as planned. I don't know yet whether to talk about it as either a "good" or a "bad" Christmas. It's been a mixed bag. And mostly, I'm just tired. Emotionally and physically.
As I said...when I have more time to process, I might be able to talk about what I've learned about myself, my family, or about Christmas. But for now, on this third day of Christmas, I think that I mostly need prayers for me and for my family. Prayers for strength and stamina, and prayers for patience, and prayers of thankfulness. There's been much good this season. But it hasn't been an easy Christmas.