Christmastime in our neck of the woods: There’s a flurry of kindness that swirls like the snow on our front porch, caught in the easterly wind and whipped like thick white frosting. The doorbell rings repeatedly as neighbors come bearing gifts. Reminded of the love that surrounds us, I thank them, and then, as the heavy wooden door closes, I thank the Lord for the people in our lives. Years ago, when our kids were on the brink of adolescence, Dave’s old law firm in Pittsburgh made a very nice offer to have him return. It would have been a good professional move for Dave. But we could not leave the steady warmth of our neighborhood hearth, and the people who nurture our children, and so we remain to this day, tucked into the hillside of north-eastern Farmington Utah.
The season brings not only celebrations and visits, the gathering and wrapping of gifts, cherished traditions, and baking parties, it is also the busiest time of year for me, professionally. Before the financial crash of 2008 my evenings in December involved lugging instruments and sound equipment around the valley, setting up, waiting for company and church dinners to finish, singing my stories and other familiar Christmas tunes, tearing down the equipment and lugging it back to the van, then arriving back home in the deep of night. Some nights we would schedule two, even three performances into one night. That was when Merlyn was singing with me and we were young and had more energy to spare. Finally, as Christmas drew nearer and the party gigs died down, we had the neighborhood nativity to present. The same equipment was lugged out to the neighbor’s lawn where our treasured little ones presented the story of Christ’s birth on the Monday before Christmas. By the time Christmas itself arrives I am always exhausted. Happy… but exhausted.
Thankfully, years ago, I realized that the wise men brought their gifts AFTER Christmas. They received news of the blessed birth, but it took them twelve days to arrive at the stable. Whew! Thank goodness they had a ways to travel, and camels are relatively slow.
We of the Clan Connors made the decision decades ago to deliver the gifts to our neighbors as the wise men did, on Epiphany, twelve days after Christmas. In much of the Christian world this is when all gifts are exchanged, rather than on Christmas day. Talk about wise! It allows the day itself to remain holy, undefiled by worldly practices, and it sets up anticipation for the joy of gifting.
January 6th of this year I loaded our boxes of gifts into the van and picked up our grandkids, Parker and Ruby, who represent my legs. I love that they are so willing to help. Through the cold and the wet they run from doorstep to doorstep, reaching their gift-bearing hands out to the people who surround us in love.
We are deeply blessed with good neighbors. I’m still trying to figure out how we lucked out; being placed here in this quaint little corner of God’s vineyard, where the sweetest fruit is grown.