Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Plan F -- The Christmas I Didn't Plan

My table this year that no one will see.
One of the things I used to look forward to each Christmas was going to Patrick’s mom’s house. Gynelle cooked for days. She would decorate her home not missing one single small touch. One year, Gynelle had put a collection of glass trees and a lit chapel on a large mirror that she had painted the edges to make it look like snow. White lights were hidden in tufts of white cotton all around the setting, and the desserts were nestled into the cotton…a beautiful tablescape on her buffet. The table seated ten comfortably, and each place was set in silver, crystal, and china with each person having their own salt and pepper crystal shakers. Dishes full of the most delicious food one could eat. Gynelle had trained and cooked in Mississippi’s governor mansion, and she knew how to cook some food. Her weakness…rolls. The rolls were ALWAYS without exception burned on the bottom. It was truly a feast for the senses. During the holidays, I miss her the most.

Before the house flooded, I had started hosting Christmas at my home. I loved decorating following cues learned from Gynelle. One room had a Santa theme, one room “the gift” room – it has the Magi. One room has nutcrackers. One room is snowmen, and of course, we have our nativity. I was so excited to be doing it again in my home after years of remodeling; I finally had a kitchen that could handle the cooking I needed to do. The things I had requested to be done well before December did not get done until the day of the dinner. Things like cleaning items out of the dining room and finding home for things. This meant that I couldn’t complete what I needed to do until that work was done, but you know, I got some energy and can do a lot in a pinch. But things happen. Things we didn’t plan on. Things we had not scheduled time for. The refrigerator leaked which means the water had to be turned off. Turning the water off meant the breaker for the ovens had to be flipped. This means my double oven used to cook the sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and broccoli and rice casserole was out of commission.

I texted Lori, my sister, to tell her of the calamity. She immediately said we could do everything at her house. While I was relieved, I was also reluctant. Memories and traditions are important to me. I guess that’s one of the reasons I blog. About 9 AM when I realized it would be best to alter the plan, I have to admit I cried. I was angry and upset. When I made the call to Lori, I tried to hide my disappointment, but I know she heard it. Had I mentioned I hadn’t even been able to wash my hair or face?

We moved to plan B…and we moved straight through to plan F with the changes of plan. The fact that we were doing this on December 26th was a testament that we could break with tradition and adjust to meet others’ schedules, but I was tired of adjusting. I told Lori we were on “F,” and she said she liked plan “F” because it was Fine. I agreed it could be Fun. I haul everything to Lori’s home and fix things there. Her mixer was a little different than mine. I had finished mixing the sweet potatoes and was getting ready to disengage the beaters. The button to disengage my beaters is on the top. The button on the top of Lori’s does not disengage her beaters. Nope. What does it do? It puts her beaters on warp speed. Sweet potato goes everywhere, and we have to laugh. There were so many little things that happened in the preparation for the day and in this day that we knew God had been preparing us without our knowing it. An unexplained can of extra cream of mushroom I’d need found in Lori’s cabinet that wasn’t there the night before, and other little God winks like that.

Before all was said and done, we were on plan “G” which was Great. We ate in shifts because of timing issues with the turkey and work schedules and family coming in from out of town. We adjusted. We lived with disappointment and because we did not dwell on the disappointment but looked in the moment to see and to live, God blessed us anyway.

Christmas time isn’t always a happy time. Plans change. Loved ones are no longer here, and we miss them. Unexpected news comes. Things we don’t expect. Things we don’t want. It’s as if we think Christmas time belongs in a bubble safe and sound from reality like nothing bad is supposed to happen. Truth is bad news comes every day. Truth is disappointment happens. Truth is life can be hard during the holidays regardless of what the holidays are supposed to be about. But here’s the bottom line, God is there if you will just look for him. Look for him in the unexpected, in the unexplained, and in the uncommon blessings. Try not to hold on to disappointment too long. Let go of disagreements quickly. Look for God in every situation. You may not understand the why, but I promise you God doesn’t waste anything. He can use it all. Hang in there. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not the train.

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