The four-day weekend of Christmas is past, and I head back to work, to an office I left late Wednesday. There will be the inevitable catching up and the wrenching adjustment to get back into the work mode after four days away. This four-day week (Friday is a holiday) is the last week of 2015, and the chores of transitioning to a new calendar year and the end of a financial month and quarter await me.
At home, Christmas lives on. The tree is still fresh, its trunk sitting in water. The decorations are still in plain view. My morning coffee came from a Christmas mug. Lights still sparkle in every window in the front of the house. Although stores proclaim "after-Christmas" sales, the ecclesiastical calendar says it's still Christmas, so I will continue to spread a Christmas spirit, and I will look forward to the unknowns of 2016 while giving thanks for the precious moments of 2015.
This year's four-day Christmas weekend blessed us with opportunities to gather our scattered family not once but four times. We spent the weekend before Christmas in Charleston, where the generations begotten by my parents had gathered yearly since 1990. On Christmas Eve, we drove to Greenville and ate breakfast with our younger daughter and her family. That night, our other daughter and her family arrived, had dinner with us and attended the Christmas Eve service. The next morning, we celebrated quietly first with just my wife and me, then with the visiting family members. That afternoon, my wife's sister and her husband arrived to celebrate the day with us. On Saturday, alone again in the house we've almost paid off, my wife and I relaxed and enjoyed the day. On Sunday, we drove to Greensboro for dinner with our son and his family. The gathering included our three children, their spouses (minus one, who had to work) and all of our grandchildren.
To have all of my children together as they had been at every Christmas 30-plus years ago, fills my heart, and the addition of their spouses and the grandchildren expands my heart more than I could ever have imagined. As Christmas continues until Epiphany, Jan. 6, I will treasure these Christmas moments and anticipate more to come in 2016.