I woke up in the Anthis home early to stuff my boys into the car and drive three hours west. Abi came down the stairs in her jammies, a sleep pinched face and said, “I wanted to give you a hug.” As she squeezed me tight, she said, “today is Christmas Eve eve”. I love Christmas eve eve because this is the day when it’s good to unleash all of the romance of Christmas and be busy with last minute details all the while anticipating the joy of giving. I am a gift giver, it is my love language. I don’t receive love the same way though, and this means if I give you a gift I really don’t want one in return. I receive heartfelt words as love, so write me something true, or spend some time with me, I take that too.
Donny drove home and I pulled out all of my books, secretly celebrating having time to read without interruption, something I covet and protect when I can find it. But that big boy of mine is so much fun to talk to, I only got through one essay on writing by Julia Cameron. We laughed all the way home about what it was like for him when he was in high school, and we marveled at how much he continues to grow and learn in college. As I read that single essay he asked me to put in a CD. He used to make CDs in high school of all the songs that captivated him and held him hostage. He is a self confessed music man describing himself as having a musical mind. I told him I recognized it when he was two and that’s why I wouldn’t ever let him quit piano lessons. ( one of the good parenting battles I fought and won) I will say I like his taste in music, and I miss the way he introduces us to new songs we might not find otherwise.
Rather than load one of his CD collections, I slipped in one of mine, and the look on his face when he realized what I’d done was great reward for my mischief. I promised if he listened to my songs we would listen to his. Let’s just say I’m eclectic, and unpredictable. My ipod is truly a box of chocolates, no it’s the whole candy store. And Donny likes that about me! So we listened to Christian worship, the Jamaican song “Don’t worry be happy”, “Walk like an Egyptian”, broadway tunes, love songs, country music, classical piano and ended finally with“God bless America” sung by Celine Dion. We had talked about where we lived when those songs were playing the most in our home, and how strange it is that he knows my music almost as a map to my personality. I never would have guessed while they were little rascally boys that they would be tattooed by the music I had playing in the house. Not only do they remember it, they pin it to who I am as their mother. So I told Donny,” at my funeral you are in charge of the music selection. I want you to clear a floor, play this CD and have a celebration. Please walk around my casket like an Egyptian. Always remember I like to have fun.”
A strange moment passed between us then because it occurred to us both that not one of us is here forever. Death has been on my mind a lot. Just the day before, we received an email that Donny’s good friend, a kid he ate lunch with every day of high school in Arizona, had jumped from a tall building and died in the hospital. Jordan arrived to his circle of friends to learn a former classmate was killed in a car accident this week in Katy. Donny and I looked at each other and realized without words how temporal life is. So I gave Donny a sermon, “I love you so much, you are important in my life, and I want to walk the long life road enjoying you as you become more of the man you are meant to be. But this is not forever, we have to live today with an eternal perspective.”
Donny’s friend from Arizona was not a believer in Christ during those days in high school. My friend who let us know what happened wrote: “ God is very near the broken-hearted, and if there was a mm of room for faith in Daniel’s heart that Jesus met him there before he jumped”. Donny and I agreed the most important reminder is how critical our witness for Christ is in this upside down world. Donny is a good evangelist; he has had the privilege of leading several people to Jesus with the salvation prayer. Maybe he understands time on earth is limited, we only have today, best to live it with eternity in mind. I realized my sermon was for myself and it ought to apply to every person God places on my path. (a good new year’s resolution)
Once home I hugged my big boy. We went inside to join the crazy family chaos of Christmas Eve eve. I tidied up the house, walked the dog, turned on all the twinkle lights, lit the fireplace, lit candles, played Christmas music, caught up on laundry and isolated myself to wrap presents while watching a favorite movie. I soaked in a hot bath, joined my husband outside at the fire place snuggled in a blanket with Kira on my lap, and suggested the kids order pizza! Hooray for us all. And at the end of Christmas Eve eve, I knew we were prepared to enjoy the most relaxing family filled fun Christmas in our home, together, where it’s not about putting the cookies out for Santa, but feeling the deep gratitude of why Jesus was born on that starry night, and what that means for the way we live our lives today. We have today together, and what joy that brings to me.