The family is slowly starting to arrive back home for Christmas. My youngest just got home from college, and with her came an increased decibel level that can only be attributed to a soccer player who is used to screaming on a field of play. Between her and the four grandkids, it often sounds like the crowds at a sporting event. And I love every minute of it.
One moment they’re singing a song from Les Miserables; the next they’re posing for crazy pictures as two-year-old Isley takes photos with her mom’s smart phone. (She does better than I do with that.) The laughter rolls through the room like a warm wave, gently tickling everyone it touches until the giggles become contagious, and we’re all laughing.
I sat back tonight and watched the interaction between the kids and grandkids, in-laws and Papa John putting his two cents in where he could. Age was not a definer so much as a determiner of energy–the playing field was leveled. What I marveled at was the sheer enjoyment everyone had in just being together. No big activity, no “thing” that grabbed everyone’s attention. Just the honest pleasure of family enjoying family. Small things.
That first Christmas was full of small things with great impact. Mary, being grateful just to have a roof over her head and her precious Son finally born. Joseph, glad to have finally arrived in Bethlehem, and though he couldn’t offer his family a room in the inn, they had a place to put their new Son. The shepherds, dirty and smelly from being in the fields with the sheep for days on end, seeing the angel and hearing the proclamation of great joy for all people. They were the first people, outside of His mother and father, to see the newborn King. In a manger, a feeding trough for animals. Small things.
I imagine the gentle joy of Mary as she held her new Son, the Child foretold her by the angel Gabriel, a Son promised of God. I imagine Joseph watching in wonder as this Child was born, to first be celebrated by shepherds and then honored by kings. I imagine them sitting together in that stable, surrounded by whatever animals were inside that night, looking at each other and grinning over what God had done. And I wonder how much they marveled at being in the presence of God’s own Son, given to them to raise.
It wasn’t a big to do. It wasn’t a party or huge celebration. It wasn’t festive at all. It was family, being together, making it through the best they could with what they had. A feeding trough in a stable.
I don’t want to lose sight of that simplicity this Christmas. Enjoying what I have, even if the house isn’t all decorated or the rugs look worn. Enjoying the people around me, even if they knock over plates of food or plug up toilets. My life, with all its sweet spots and prickly places, is my gift from the God who loves me.
I want to remember to enjoy the laughter.