Last time I turned round, it was December 24th, and I was at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL (three hours north of us) being evaluated for rheumatoid arthritis. I was referred up there after some blood work came back high for RA. My days have been up and down since, and Christmas didn't really happen around here in the usual way. Expected family didn't come, because I wasn't home in time, and a few gifts were handed out over a week's time.
I didn't prepare a holiday meal, and we didn't have the whole family around for the 25th. I made a cherry danish for Christmas morning breakfast, something I'd never done, and we watched Miracle on 34th Street, a movie I had never seen from start to finish. We had a meal with my parents in their assisted living facility, and called it a day.
Christmas came anyway. Without a fat turkey, pumpkin pie, or even a Christmas tree. It came without our "grab bag" activity, or trays of sugar cookie cut-outs I usually bake. We didn't even get to church, we were so exhausted from the trip up and back to Mayo.
But, you know what? Christmas came anyway.
Which made think about the first Christmas. It had no glitz or sparkle either. A frightened, unwed teenager spilled her blood onto hay and dirt in a cold stable with smelly animals nearby. Her fiance, Joe, was probably just as terrified. What did he know about birthing a baby? And then royalty arrived with some valuable oils that brought healing and restoration to aliments and wounds. They were probably exactly what Mary needed for her cold, labor-weary body.
And that was it. The King had arrived. The angels sang as a divine child entered our filthy world. The world would never be the same. But, then...time to pack up and get back on the donkey for an arduous trip.
The greatest, and simplest, story every told.
As unusual as this Christmas was for us, I loved it. With my injured foot and extra doc appointments, I didn't have the time or energy for all the regular preparations, and, in the end, it was liberating. I spent more time pondering the Christ child and his humble appearance on Earth than I ever have before. Without all the hoop-la, Christmas still came.
"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
The Grinch got it right.