I bought a ham. Our little grocery store calls me every year to see if I want to order one and I always say yes, even though I’m not entirely sure why. It just seems like the right thing to do? We’re not going to be home for Christmas, though, which meant that I made it for dinner last night. I felt like June Cleaver. I mean, who makes a spiral cut ham on a Monday night? I should’ve made a molded jello salad to go with it (I made corn casserole, which is of the same era. If only I would have worn my apron).
At the last minute, as I was getting ready to put dinner on the table, I realized it was winter solstice— the shortest day of the year. So I threw a few extra candles on the table and turned off all the lights. Kate made place cards (which were our names, in cursive, on full sheets of construction paper. Only the fanciest for us).
I snapped a picture. Look at our cozy dinner. We are so sweet together. We ooze love and joy.
It was true for about two minutes and thirty-two seconds.
And then one of us (who shall remain nameless) spilled an entire glass of water all over the table. Because, no lights.
And someone else only wanted the only green lettuce leafs in the salad, not the purple ones.
The truth is, yesterday was a hard day. There was plenty of bickering and expectations, along with grey and rainy weather *again*. The house seemed to explode with stuff everywhere and someone kept turning the Christmas tree lights from a slow fade to seizure inducing.
By the time Peter got home, I felt like I was slowly imploding. What was wrong with me? I’ve looked forward to this week, to having them home.
The candles drew me out of the self-pitying fog. So we didn’t have the greatest day, but there’s always a chance to recalibrate. I took a deep breathe and realized the day wasn’t nearly as terrible as I’d convinced myself. There’s always something to be thankful for… and when I challenged myself to see the gifts of the day, instead of focusing on all the negative, my whole demeanor shifted.
After dinner, the magic time of post-supper had us all laughing. We played “statue”— a made up game where someone counts and the rest of the players strike a unmoving pose. The first one who breaks under pressure loses (It was always Eliza. She’d get the giggles every. single. round). It’s a genius game, probably invented by an exhausted parent, because I just curled up on the couch and “pretended” to fall asleep.
And then they made up another game in which the judge would rate the other’s wipe outs after they slid across the carpeted floor with socks on. That one didn’t end so well.
At the end of the night, Eliza told me she doesn’t like games that other players are lemonade-ed. She meant eliminated. I didn’t correct her.
So it was the shortest, darkest day of the year yesterday. And I’m tempted to roll my eyes and say, “Of course it was.” Instead, I lit the candles and served the ham. I sifted the bad from the good and found extra joy I almost missed.
May you have the courage not to let these sweet moments pass by unnoticed. May you unwrap the quiet gifts God hands to you and be grateful for what you’ve been given… because no matter what, there is always something to be thankful for.
And maybe the best news? The days are now getting longer and brighter. Soak it in, my friends.