Tuesday, January 03, 2023

A Weird Christmas

 by Charlotte Hinger

This Christmas went awry. Even some of the church services that keep my heart in the right place were displaced due to extreme weather. 

It was the "off" year for our family gathering. By that we mean that everyone goes to the in-laws. Next year is "Hinger' Christmas. Which means we negotiate the time and place for my daughters, their spouses and all the grandchildren to show up.

But talk about "off." My daughter, Cherie hosted Christmas for her daughters at the new/old four-story house on the coast of North Carolina. It was 20 degrees outside and a mere 40 inside. They were totally miserable. The geo-thermal heating system wasn't built to cope with the extreme cold. So it gave up the ghost. The pipes froze. Even the dog was rolled up in extra padding. 

My youngest daughter, Mary Beth, worked long hours Christmas Day. She's the administrator of an assisted living/memory care center and ended up supplementing the ones who usually work the floor. She works in Raleigh, but lives in Clayton, NC. She suffered through a complete power outage and her pipes froze too. She showered at work. 

I was snug and happy here in Colorado where we are prepared for cold weather. Even so, no one is used to 17 degrees below. All activities were cancelled. Thankfully, our power stayed on.

My daughter, Michele and her husband, Harry, prepared a wonderful Christmas dinner and their daughter, Audrey, her husband, Pete, and the new baby, Francesca, came up from Denver. Nothing makes a day more joyful than the presence of a baby. For one blessed day, it felt like Christmas. 

Nevertheless, this Christmas was weird. Presents never arrived, or were misaddressed or something. We have a historically long message chain to one another trying to straighten out little messes. We exchange a large number of books and many of us ended up with the wrong ones. 

But guess what. Christmas came anyway. Despite the weather. Despite our bumbling. 

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was one of my husband's favorite movies. Don's laugh was contagious. We all loved to watch him watch the movie. He delighted in the central message. 

Nothing can stop this special time of year. Christmas draws us closer to our families, to memories of times past, to an awareness of the needs of others who are less fortunate. 

We open our wallets and our hearts and for a brief season join a collective circle of humanity acutely aware of those without homes and families.

The season reminds us that we can do better for our fellow man. 

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