Thursday, December 24, 2009

It’s A Wonderful Christmas Eve

Christmas is full of tradition in our family, as it probably is in yours.  This year nearly the entire family made the trip back to the Mormon Mecca, coming from Canada, Seattle, and even Korea.  In the heat of battle with a billion other fellow procrastinators, we somehow found time for some of our Christmas traditions—yes, including lunch at Arctic Circle.  Apparently they just built one in Draper.  After being served a slightly gray-hued hamburger by a girl with Gummi Bear (© HARIBO) eye shadow, however, I wish I could go back in time and change this tradition to a more palatable establishment.  Then again, I do owe them at least a little loyalty for inventing the sweet nectar now affectionately called “fry sauce.”  Bless you and your tinted burger for that, Arctic Circle. 

We spent Christmas Eve with the Holley side of the family.  I saw Aunt Shannon for the second time this year.  I believe that makes my quota.  The Korean part of the family was there in living color, Kevin playing an absolutely gorgeous song on the piano called Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.  It makes me think of peaceful winter nights … and skiing, for some reason.

Being together like that, back in the town my ancestors helped found, reminded me again of how amazing my family really is.

As the day was winding down, my planning-savvy family all headed home to kick up their feet and call it day.  Not me.  No, it was back to the battlefield with me where my fellow procrastinators were frothing at the mouth in panic as some cowardly (or maybe just wise) WalMart employee was threatening to close the registers in 20 minutes.  After several unsuccessful attempts this week, I finally found the bottle of perfume I was planning on giving my sister but couldn’t give it the final sniff of approval since it was sealed in a plastic box <???>.  Annoyed, I asked the woman shopping next to me, “How am I supposed to tell if this passes the test if it’s sealed up like this?”  She laughed and replied with a sly grin, “Well, you unseal it!  I’ve never been caught!” and she haughtily ripped the package open and produced a sweet-smelling bottle from within.  Just unseal it—how foolish of me.

With shopping now completed I returned home where Jimmy Stewart and Bedford Falls were already awaiting me on the television.  I watch my favorite movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, every year on Christmas Eve…usually alone.  I really love that movie and all of its little lessons.  This year I noticed, for the first time, what Clarence wrote in George Bailey’s note at the end of the film, “No man is a failure who has friends!  Thanks for the wings –Clarence.” Fantastic movie! 

As I type, stretched out on the sofa in front of the fireplace, feet up, my now-empty glass of egg nog on the sill, silhouetted against the frosty window, I can’t help but be grateful for life.  George Bailey was allowed to see what the world would be like without him and found that his little, everyday influence had shaped his small town in incalculable ways.  I wonder how often I judge someone, forgetting that I can in no way comprehend their potential.  Do we know our own?  Christ the Lord never traveled more than 100 miles from His home, where He was born in an animal’s stall, was never formally educated, and probably never wore anything nicer than a pair of sandals and rough cloth.  I wonder if He meant to teach us something by coming to the world He would save through such humble means.  In any case, I’m grateful for this season named in His honor and wish you all a Merry Christmas!