After opening our gifts to each other early in the morning, the four of us sat down to a pancake breakfast with bacon and sausage, orange juice and coffee made with the Dunkin Donuts blend my daughter bought for her Dad. Then it was countdown to 1:30pm when my parents and my brother Mark would arrive for dinner. I rubbed the roast with salt and pepper and fresh thyme and let it sit on the counter. Then I went on to do the apple pie.
This pie had to come out reasonably well. I have not been doing that well in the baking department, lately. You see, I overcooked the bread pudding I made for my father-in-law and the saint that he is, he ate it with such a smile of delight that he could have almost fooled me. But since I kept a small bread pudding at home (I had made three), when I got home from leaving him the bread pudding, I took a bite of the one I had and thought, "Oh, that suffering saint. This bread pudding is dry." I thought of our old neighbor, from years ago, who would always say "I'm dry as a deuce."
But the apple pie came out well, the roast smelled wonderful in the oven, and when my parents and brother arrived with the squash puree (from their organic garden), the table was all set and ready. The Christmas Dinner was about to begin. But not before we said grace, and then popped open our Christmas Crackers- a new English tradition I've started. Inside every cracker is a little toy, a paper crown, and a joke. Dad and Mom looked dignified in their paper crowns, while my brother Mark and my husband clowned around. Alex had his camera on the tripod and was capturing memories for us to feast on later.
Abby's favorite part was eating the cheesecake and apple pie, later on in the day; but only after we played a round of Survival- a game which asks questions about what you would do in a wilderness or survival situation. We played in teams: Mark and Abby, Alex with Nana and Papa, and Bill and I. I surprised everyone by knowing the correct thing to do the first three rounds we played. Some of the questions were hysterical- like how to remove skin caught in a zipper (ouch!) and how to make soap out in a wilderness setting. Other questions related to avoiding shark attacks or avoiding bears. Usually my father answers every question perfectly. That man has the sharpest mind and the most interesting outlook on things.
As Mom, Dad, and Mark were getting ready to leave later,Mark helped my Mom on with her coat, trying to hold her steady. She is unsteady on her feet, frail, but vigorous with joy when she is feeling well. Mark let go of her for one minute and we all watched as in slow motion she started to fall backwards. I scrambled to catch her, but she fell down slowly, onto her bottom, on the carpeted floor. Since she did not fall from too high a starting point, and she almost eased into the fall, she was not hurt.
With relief, we gathered around her to help her up, but we couldn't get her up without her slippered feet sliding across the carpet. My husband said, "I've got her," stepped behind her, and lifted her to her feet , in one swoop, as if she was ten pounds. My mother looked like a giddy school girl rescued by the football player, beaming and a little pink in the face from the quickness of it all.
"Love lifted me" was all I could think of. Do you know that beautiful hymn?
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Everyone takes a tumble now and then. But not everyone is ready to accept help in getting up. "Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up" says 1 Corinthians 13:4b. You can't be puffed up and arrogant when you've taken a fall and need help. But you can be the recipient of an exhilarating ride upwards to "on your feet" again.
Dad commented on Bill's big back and how he has grown more powerful with all the construction work he has been doing. We were all glad that Bill's muscular arms had come in handy. My husband has remodeled houses, swinging a hammer, lifting sheet rock, carrying loads of lumber. He has physically labored in turning a house into a beautiful home. But on Christmas Day, this time, his strong arms had been used for the work of love, lifting someone up, literally. We saw love in motion, swooping in at a person's lowest moment, lifting up that loved one to standing.
Then we all stood together, laughing and talking while we hugged good bye. Our Christmas celebration ended on a good note, everyone on their feet, standing tall,... feeling loved.