A Quiet, Snowy Winter Morning

This is my favorite time of the day. The kids are still asleep. It's so nice and quiet. I am sitting in my pajamas drinking my morning coffee and watching snow fall lightly upon my deck. I love these mornings when I can sit here as long as I want instead of having to rush around getting myself and my kids off to school and work.

There was something really nice about Christmas this year that I can't really describe. After four years of being "alone" at Christmas, I felt a certain measure of contentedness this year. I felt as if Christmas was finally what I wanted it to be. Christmas was more real for me than it has been in a very long time. It was slow-paced, about people rather than things.

My younger son and I went to mass together at 4 on Christmas Eve. Then he went with his father for a big family dinner and celebration on that side of the family, and I went to my friend Nick's house for the fourth year in a row. I met Nick when I lived in an apartment for a year while I was redirecting my life. He lived in the apartment above me. He and I and another neighbor, Dorine, got to be good friends. Celebrating Christmas with them has been life-changing for me, and I am grateful for their friendship.

Dorine is 85, and while she lost her husband to cancer quite a while ago, she has never stopped living a full life. She never had children but had such a wonderful relationship with her husband; I almost feel as if I knew him by the many memories she shares. Dorine is smart and funny and so outgoing. I love her zest for life, and I love listening to her stories.

Nick is Filipino, and it is through him that I have become more grounded in my meaning of Christmas. I remember, particularly, the second Christmas Eve spent with Nick and Dorine and many of Nick's Filipino friends and family. Nick had just moved into his new home after we had been forced by Olivet Nazarene University to move out of our apartments. This Christmas Eve was different than the previous year's celebration because Nick's sister and her husband were there and so many more Filipino friends than before. There was not one gift under the tree. Christmas to Filipinos is not about presents piled high but rather a celebration of food and friendship.

Spending Christmas Eve with Nick and Dorine and Nick's friends has become peaceful and comforting to me.

I spent Christmas morning with a friend/colleague from work, Martha, and her family visiting from California and Colorado. Martha invited me over for breakfast, and I enjoyed listening to their stories of childhood memories of Christmases past.

And my own Christmas later in the afternoon with my two sons was just as nice. We opened presents, and then I made their favorite meal (my baked mostaccioli), and we watched a movie together.

I hope your own Christmas celebration was peaceful and joyful and, most of all, one that made you feel happy and content. Merry Christmas, friends.


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