This past weekend we had one of those rich, full weekends, where all the events put together made everything seem larger than life. Do you know the kind of weekend I’m talking about?
As most of you know, my memoir was published on Amazon.com on Friday. And seriously, I got such an encouraging and enthusiastic response from all of you, I just felt covered in blessings. I spent most of the day thanking people on twitter and Facebook for all of the support.
This book was twenty years in the living, and two years in the writing, so it was no small accomplishment for me.
On Saturday, I had my English classes in the home, and since it was the last class before the holidays, we made Christmas cookies together. Cookie decorating is fun in any language and my students appreciated the break from grammar.
And in the afternoon, we hosted a holiday tea with neighbors, whose children are the same age as ours.
It was the perfect excuse to decorate the table in holiday cheer,
and light candles
and set out delicious things to eat.
As I was in the process of setting everything out, the doorbell rang, which provided just enough distraction for Hunter to run into the kitchen and scarf a line of Russian tea cakes. As I dragged him outside by the collar, I saw a gentleman standing on the other side of the gate, smoking a cigarette and waiting nervously as I got a hold of our dog.
When he finally had my attention, he started speaking softly and I just managed to catch something about donations and P.O. boxes and homeless people.
“Wait,” I said. “You mean you’re collecting donations to help people without a home to get a P.O. box so they have a chance at getting a job?”
“Yes,” he replied. “So they have some hope of getting out of their situation.”
“Oh I definitely want to support that,” I answered. “Wait right here please.”
As he was filling out the tax receipt for my donation, he thanked me earnestly. And I responded, “It’s the least I can do! I mean I have a home and everything. How could I not give?”
He relaxed visibly and even smiled, as he answered, “It’s just nice to have a warm welcome. I don’t always have that.”
After he was gone, something tugged at my heart. I was sad that he wasn’t well-received wherever he went, and I was sad I couldn’t do more. I was also conscious of how grateful I was to have a cozy, welcoming home for my own family – one that I could open for friends. I urgently wished for his situation to improve so that he could have that too.
I didn’t have much time to reflect on all of these things, however, because our friends arrived with winter coats, noise and laughter.
They were carrying two things: a bouquet of flowers –
and an electric, remote-controlled car that was as much for the dads as it was for the kids.
My seven-year old son was taking care of something indoors, and he was the last person to race out of the house to see the car. Everyone was standing on the opposite side of our quiet street – standing on the sidewalk because a car was about to pass.
But my son raced towards the gate with absolutely nothing on his mind other than the need to hurry and not miss out on the electric car. My husband saw his focused attention before he even reached the gate, and started yelling, “Gabriel! Gabriel! GABRIEL!!! STOP!!!!!!”
Gabriel didn’t hear him because he was so intent on joining the crowd on the other side of the street. He let the gate slam behind him and started to race into the road, hidden from the oncoming driver’s view by a large white van that was parked next to our house.
The driver was going rather fast for our quiet street, and although she couldn’t see Gabriel, perhaps she sensed something was amiss from the fact that my husband was yelling. She slammed on her brakes . . . coming to a screeching halt no more than six inches from my son.
So we were spared grief upon grief, and sorrow upon sorrow on Saturday. And our emotional weekend of gratitude for personal triumph, and gratitude for material blessings had one more added to it – that of the oppressive gratitude expressing itself in trembling relief over an outcome that could have happened . . . but didn’t.
It strikes me that in this holiday season – as in every day – there is always something to be grateful for.
* * *
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18