A Merry Little Christmas

Merry Christmas from a happy Korn family to yours!

This was such a strange Christmas for us here. For the first time EVER, we missed Christmas Eve at my aunt and uncle’s house. The snow made the forty minute trip too difficult for us and for most of the rest of the family too. I have gone to their house every Christmas Eve since I was born and consider it one of my most cherished family traditions.

You know in elementary school when they are trying to teach you the meaning of the word “tradition” and the teacher asks everyone to think of an example from their family? This was my example. My tradition. My family encompassed in one night.

First, there is the food. Piles and pounds of gloriously rich holiday food. Each family bringing their very best so that there isn’t a single questionable dish in the bunch. And how we Jardelezas can eat. I remember fondly having to protect my plate from my very enthusiastic uncles and cousins. I remember distinctly one year one of my uncles poked a finger around in my plate while asking “Were you going to eat that?” And you have to be fast about picking up your plate so the cousins who are wrestling in the middle of the floor don’t roll over your food.

Then there is the music. With literally almost fifty voices singing together, it is impossible to escape the swirling layers of harmony. My favorite is the song we sing for grace called “Thank you Lord” sung to the tune of “Edelweiss” from Sound of Music.

Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord
For our many good blessings.
Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord
For our many good friendships
Glory to God
May you hear our prayer
Guide us on forever
Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord
For our blessings and friendships.

But of course, we can’t escape the Christmas carols. We used to pass out folders with pages of lyrics and sing all the verses to all the classics, but we’ve since lost the lyrics and we race through the first verse of every carol we can think of. The goofy young ones favor Rudolph, but I prefer the slower, hymn-like carols because I can feel the rumble of my husband’s baritone wrapping around my uncle Joe’s bright tenor harmonies and my aunts’ rich altos. If there is one thing I identify with my Jardeleza family, it’s the sound of those fifty or so voices singing together. It really makes me think of what it was like to be a shepherd in the field that night listening to the angels sing glory to God.

We always do this game called Posadas where we choose an expectant couple to imitate Mary and Joseph going door to door seeking room at the inn. My husband would complain and say that our classic understanding of the Christmas story is faulty and would start to explain the meaning of the word “kataluma” which has been translated “inn” in so many versions of the Bible, but would be better translated “living space.” But the fun part about posadas is the crazy concepts for each inn my cousins come up with. One year, my teenage male cousins answered the doorpost their “inn” shirtless and in diapers fashioned from bed sheets. Don’t ask me why, but it was hysterical. I usually choose to be one of the audience that follows our Mary and Joseph door to door singing “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

We close the night in a flurry of wrapping paper as we open a few presents and pass out hugs and love. Every year, my aunt Chrissy makes everyone a giant sack of cookies and I look forward to those extra pounds on my hips and thighs with great anticipation. The room always gets a little warm and everyone gets sleepy. We change the little ones into their pajamas because we know they will fall asleep on the way home, and we wish we could do the same. Then we grab some leftovers on the way out the door.

This is what I missed this year and yet, it seemed fitting to celebrate Christmas Eve at home this year. We took a trip to see the doctor to make sure that the dizziness, general discomfort and chest tightness I have been feeling the past week were nothing to be worried about and came home to cuddle by the tree and watch a barrage of Christmas classics on TV. The doc says I am just stressed and my husband insists that I have to give myself permission to feel that way.

I get it, but the thing is, I just don’t feel stressed. I have been home with my wonderful children, showered with love and support, gifted, dined, dated, hugged, cuddled and kissed. And I feel a little annoyed to discover that I really am stressed even if I am trying to convince myself that I am not. How contrary to the holiday it is to feel stressed. Here we are celebrating the birth of Christ, the ultimate symbol of God’s sovereignty, and we still struggle with trusting God with everything. In the midst of remembering that God himself became man to open the gates of heaven for sinners like us, we still think He can’t handle our junk.

And that is why I know that we needed a home Christmas Eve this year. God made it so we were stuck home this year, missing all those things I identify with Christmas at my aunt’s house. I had an awesome Christmas this year at home with my amazing husband and beautiful babies. Celebrating the sovereignty of a trustworthy and faithful God.

Plus even though I didn’t get my aunt Chrissy’s cookies, my gorgeous sister in law Erica made sure my hips and thighs weren’t neglected this year and gave me a cookie jar full of cookies. My family rocks.