Christmas 2009 Remembered: Part 1

December 31, 2008


It’s early Saturday morning and I’m in the Kansas City International airport.  Normally, I like to get to the airport a few minutes early. And I never have time to scribble down my thoughts.  But today is different.  I am sitting in the airport in the unsecured area.  I am with Cindy.  She is reading her book and I am listening to the Daily Source Code (with Adam Curry).  He is talking about conspiracy theories and circumcisions in Uganda.  So with that kind of mix going on, I just have to start recording my thoughts.

Cindy and I were awakened at 4:00AM to a phone call.  We didn’t grab the phone in time.  And in fairness, I don’t even remember hearing the phone.  After all, I was asleep.  We both rolled over and slept until my alarm went off at 4:45A.  We got up early so we would arrive at the airport an hour before our scheduled takeoff.  We woke Bailey up and grabbed a couple of bagels.  And then, we were off.

The drive was quiet and dark.  There was little (i.e., zero) conversation.  There has been a whole lot of stress the past few days.  Most of it is the natural friction between parents and their young adult children.  And in Bailey’s case, this friction has been betwwen her and Cindy.  I hate to intervene in such matters.  So I find myself in the uneasy demilitarized zone between two women that love one another – but are still feeling a lot of conflict. Wow.  Life sure is complicated.  But I’m wandering off topic.

We got to the airport and gave each other hugs and kisses.  And Bailey headed off into the darkenss of KCI aprport.  We went into the terminal and saw why we had received a phone call at 4A.  Our flight to Atlanta had been cancelled.  While Atlanta is a hub, Kansas City isn’t.  We assume that an inbound flight was delayed or cancelled.  And the next Delta flight to Atlanta was three-and-a-half hours later.

So Cindy and I grabbed coffee at Starbucks.  And we settled in to a long winter wait.  As you can tell, I’m using my time typing up my idle ruminations.  And Cindy is reading.  For a lot of people, a few hours in an airport is hellish.  Well, I feel the same way.  But it does give me plenty of time to tap out a new article or two.  And since I can’t bear to do work at 6:30 in the monring, I’m going to assemble some fleeting and disjointed thoughts.

Christmas was a wonderful time at the Olsen’s.  As is our custom, we went out to eat on Christmas eve.  This year, we went to a local Asian noodle joint called Blue koi.  And as usual, it was quite wonderful – but quite pricey.  But we had three of four kids with us.  So we had another chance to love on the kids a bit.

After dinner, we went to Christmas eve service at Heartland.  And it was one of the best Christmas eve services I can remember.  We arrived and folks were singing solos from the stage.  We all checked our watches to make sure that we weren’t late.

Uh oh.  As I’m typing this, Adam Curry has broken into some Christmas music.  Yeah, I’m listening to the 12/23 Charlie on 12/27.  And Adam is playing one of my favorite Christmas songs: The Night Santa Went Crazy (by Weird Al).  I’m grinning and hearing about Santa grinding up Rudoph into reindeer sausage.  But I’m digressing…

Where was I?  Oh, I remember.  I was talking about Christmas and the celebration of our Lord’s birth.  As we checked our watches, we knew we were on time.  And then we realized that this was the pre-Christmas “concert” everyone was talking about.  It was wonderful.  People were trickling in.  And they seated themselves to the sound of wonderful Christmas cheer.

The service was fantastic.  There were carols, a brief but very pointed redemption message, a communion, and the traditional lighting of Christmas candles.  All of this was done within one hour.

And the best part is that it set the mood in my heart.  My life is always crazy.  I have twenty things to do with dozens more on hold.  So it would be easy to go through hte motions w/o remembering the meaning.   But this service reminded me of the real reason for Christmas.  Christ was born on this day.  And we remember his birth.  But how many of us actually remember the reality.  And the reality is simple: He came to Earth to give up his life on our behalf.  He lived for the purpose of dying.  As I type these words, I feel a tingle running down my spine.  I am so capable of being blown away when I am in God’s presence.  When I am reminded of his, I am left mute in awe.  Even now, I find myself struggling to write down these thoughts.  When God is near, I tremble.  And when Christ came to Earth, the Earth trembled.  The angels sang.  And the kings came to worship

After the service ended, we hustled home for the traditional Christmas gift exchange.  And everything went wonderfully.  Yes, there were gifts.  But more importantly, there was a calm and peaceful sense of of well-being.  It was interesting to note who got what presents.  Dad got some movies and some music – with a few bottles of designer cologne thrown in.  Mom got a very Bluetooth Christmas.  Everyone got clothes.  Dana got a replacement computer. And Adam got a lot of lacrosse equipment.  Bailey was the most interesting.  She is growing and changing.  So she wanted to give everyone an hour’s worth of service.  But she realized just how commercial things are.  So she crumbled and gave people lots of music.  And in our house, that is very important.  She received all sorts of music from latin singers and mex-american bands.  But I am wandering off-topic…

We set out the milk and cookies for Kris Kringle.  And we went to bed.  We all slept well.

I got up early to walk the dogs and make coffee.  And I decided to do a little spot cleaning of the kitchen floor while I waited for everyone else to get up.  I probably went a little overboard on cleaning.  But I felt the spirit of my mom being channeled through me.  With my step-aunt coming for dinner, I wanted things to look good.

When Clarin and Meredith came, we rousted all the over-sleepers (i.e., my son).  And we had wave two of presents.  Interesting observations came with this second “gifting.”  In particular, Meredith had spent a great deal of time on her present.  She settled on a them of women’s togetherness.  Every woman in the family got a special stuffed bear.  And they all relate to one another.  It is far too complicated to explain it here.  But the point was simple: all of hte Schwerin women (both in Kansas and in North Carolina) received a part of the themed gifts.  It was very cool seeing my daughter focus on a broader meaning.  It was heartwarming and it made her Dad quite proud.

And then the food work began.  Cindy and Clarin started chopping.  And Bailey and Dana started to work on side dishes.  The main course was a wonderful beef Wellington.  Cindy makes individual filets that are individually wrapped in pastry.  The pate is made from mushrooms and ham and a litany of other wonderfully tasting goodies.

And the cranberry dressing was outstanding.  It had  cranberries (cut in half, apples and even a little orange.  And the tastes were quite wonderful when assembled together.  Dana added her signature green bean casserole.  While Meredith and Bailey assembled salads and deserts.

In short, the meal was astounding.  I am quite blessed to have a plethora of great cooks in my kitchen.  Praise God!



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