One of our Christmas Eve traditions, after attending church, is that the family gathers together and we bring in Chinese carry-out for everyone. I am sure that it sounds odd, but that isn’t the first and won’t be the last Toussaint tradition that doesn’t make sense to anyone outside the family. And that’s just the way it should be… Families should have things they do together to celebrate this most Holy night.
Throughout the years, we have alternated among various houses in the family, similar to what my nuclear family did when I was a youngster, and tonight was Andrew’s turn to host. So after the early church service was over, we all went to Andrew’s home. We ordered dinner and then twenty minutes later, Andrew and I left to pick up the carry-out order. When we arrived at the restaurant, the order was nowhere near ready. There was a line of people waiting, more sitting in booths waiting for their orders to be ready and it was freezing cold. The poor young man behind the counter was trying to take orders and he was so cold he had his coat, scarf and gloves on as he was taking phone orders and trying to run credit cards at the same time.
And I mean it was cold in that restaurant. The heat had gone out in the place and it wasn’t any warmer inside than it was outside. Perhaps it would have been a blessing to have been in the kitchen cooking over a hot stove. They had called the repair people but nobody had shown up and it was getting late, especially on Christmas Eve.
In fact, I could see my breath as I talked and it brought back memories of our first Christmas Eve in 1982. We were supposed to travel back to Illinois and I65 back to the Windy City was closed due to snow and ice. In hindsight it was a good thing that we didn’t get on the road because we weren’t accustomed to having a heat pump and although we had become used to having a little cooler home in the winter, it didn’t really register with us that our furnace was broken until the temperature in the house dropped into the high fifties. It continued to drop and we had no idea what to do. It was late at night, Christmas Eve, and we didn’t have a relationship with any local vendors, etc. Luckily, I was able to locate someone in Anderson, almost an hour north of here, who had the part we needed in stock.
He promised to wait for me to get up there and pick it up. A neighbor put in the new circuit breaker for us at midnight. What a way to celebrate our first Christmas Eve in Indiana. And how vividly I remembered that night earlier this evening as I was standing in the Chinese restaurant.
But tonight, as I sit here writing, Janet and I are back home and we are nice and toasty. The shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped and under the tree, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care and we are just sitting here enjoying the quiet of the night. Usually, it’s still hectic until much later in the evening. It’s been a tough year for us – I’m just thinking about all the things that we have endured as a family – and yet, in the middle of everything, here I sit and for the moment, I am resting in heavenly peace… there’s something so magical about Christmas Eve – I have felt this way since my earliest childhood memories.
We’ll miss Jill, Tom and Drew this year. They aren’t coming up from Oklahoma. But Kristin and Andrew will be here – and Kristin’s three boys, of course. Another day of serenity and then the holidays will start to wind down. The first of the new year will bring its own set of challenges as Janet and I get ready for some exciting changes of our own – but more about that later as we approach January 1st – nothing negative, all good!
But in the meantime, I think I will just let the world fade into the background and concentrate on the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That’s really all there is to it – a baby in a manger, sent by His Father to be the salvation of the world. The verse for this evening is from Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Yes, peace, in fact, heavenly peace…
My encouragement for you this evening is that you can have that kind of divine peace as well. In fact, that is one of God’s fondest desires – that you should be able to rest in Him. My prayer is that you will appreciate the meaning of Christmas and not forget the fundamental truths about the day – rather than getting caught up in the materialism of how the world views this time of year. So, from our home to yours, Merry Christmas! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…