I can't say I'm anxious to hang a huge print of this family photo on our living room room. Maybe this is vain but it would have been nice if I'd had a chance to do my hair and put on some makeup, and better outfits for us all would have been fantastic! I'm thinking Finley could have looked at the camera and Joey's smile could have been a little happier. Or maybe I'm just being picky. The bottom line is that I'm thankful for this photo and everything it brings to mind when I look at it.
On Saturday morning (yes, the one preceding Christmas by only five days) my husband Joey remembered that we'd made plans to go get a Christmas tree with my family. I threw my hair into a messy bun, found some clothes that at least looked clean, and we headed out the door. On the drive to the farm I realized Joey was wearing something he'd found in the "ugly sweater" bin. I didn't have long to lament over the fact that we both looked weird on the day I planned take our one family photo of the year because our car soon broke down en route to the tree farm. I'm not sure exactly what happened but it involved a ball joint breaking, for those of you to whom this means something. Joey's dad picked us up and we met up with the Ayers family, late but safe. We got a tree but might have done some unintentional trespassing in the process, which made select members of my family nervous enough that we pretty much took eight minutes total to hike up a hill, choose a tree, cut it down, load it into a truck, and snap some rushed photos. Whew. Emotional and hectic come to mind when I think back on that day!
Then, on Christmas Eve morning, my husband woke up to the sound of our carbon monoxide alarm beeping, which we had literally JUST purchased and plugged in before going to bed hours earlier. In fact, the packaging was still strewn on the kitchen counter and we hadn't had a chance to read the instructions and thus had no idea what the beeping sound we were hearing met. Low battery? Carbon monoxide detected? So at 4:30AM we stood in our kitchen reading the instruction manual for our carbon monoxide alarm, finally coming to the panicked conclusion that the beeping we were hearing indeed was urging us to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE IMMEDIATELY because an unsafe amount of carbon monoxide was being detected. We opened all the doors and windows, woke up our son Finley, threw some things into a duffle bag, and left our home. Thankfully we live thirty seconds from Joey's parents, so we drove over and found a spare bed to *try* to finish our night's sleep in. Needless to say it was another emotional and rather hectic day, from the fact that we could have died in our sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning to the fact that we had tons of unwrapped gifts and duties that needed doing back at our carbon-monoxide-filled house.
This morning Finley woke up sick and miserable with a high fever. And then there was the poop explosion all over the white couch and the white living room carpet. Yet I somehow only feel thankfulness.
Even with all that's happened in the past few days, minor overall but stressful in the moment, I know I have so much to be thankful for. For instance, our car didn't break when I was driving it the entire day before in a busy downtown area. Instead, it broke when my husband (who knows what to do in crazy situations) was driving, we weren't on a busy road, and someone was immediately able to come assist us. Joey also has a few weeks off of school during which he can fix it, and normally he would be so pressed for time and energy that it would probably just make us all have breakdowns. It could have been so much worse, and I'm thankful for how it ended up playing out.
And regarding the carbon monoxide alarm... we had actually been using one we thought was broken. It kept going off in the middle of the night and the alarm didn't sound urgent (of course we didn't have the manual to figure it out). We assumed it was just beeping to tell us that it needed to be replaced, so we unplugged it, went back to bed, and vowed to purchase a new one soon. As terrifying as it is for me to think that we had ignored what I later learned was the actual "dangerous level of carbon monoxide detected" alert on the initial alarm, we are alive and well today, and for that I cannot do anything except be thankful. Why us? Why were we spared when people lose their lives each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning? I honestly don't know. But I'm so thankful we are alive and well!
Ultimately, I'm so thankful for what Christmas itself commemorates. The day Jesus Christ was born into this world as a human, which was one of many beautiful steps in God's fulfilling of his own plan for salvation. Eventually Jesus would die, suffer the punishment we all deserve for our lives which will never measure up to God's standard, but then rise above it all and in return offer the only chance for freedom there is from a pointless life and hopeless death. Why, I wonder? Why did he do it? And why did he chose me to believe and to receive that wonderful, underserved freedom? Again, I don't know the reason... I just know that I'm thankful.
So this Christmas, I'm thankful. I'm really, really, thankful. In small ways, and in the biggest way possible. Did this thankfulness come right away? Heck no! Joey and I both had our moments/hours/days of anger and tears and downright nastiness towards each other. Sometimes the greatest lessons are learned in retrospect...
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18