Sometimes, all I can say is that, "Life Runneth Over."
I mean, really, how can I possibly journal a life that's as full and rich as the one I am privileged to live? Yesterday, for example, was "Boxing Day." (I know I'm a writer, and I'm supposed to be good at summing things up in a few easy sentences... but I'm recommending you go to Wikipedia if you want the full explanation of the British "Boxing Day" tradition).
As for my immediate family, Boxing Day simply means spending the day after Christmas Day at my mum and dad's house. We eat cold cuts with baked potatoes and "stuffing", slather everything with British condiments, and follow it all with Christmas Pudding, mince-pie, Christmas Cake, hot custard and a lot of hot tea. We really miss Naomi and Craig and David, up in Connecticut, but they are establishing their own Boxing Day tradition that they share with family and friends...
PARTY HATS: During the eating of the meal, and for the remainder of the day, we wear the silly paper party-hats that flew out from the "Christmas crackers" we pulled right after the blessing.
The afternoon is spent playing parlor games, drinking hot tea, walking off the dinner so we can eat more, drinking more hot tea, exchanging gifts, drinking tea, retelling family stories, singing favorite Christmas carols, drinking tea again, and then - of course - drinking tea.
Later, we feel full and content and blessed. Then we have another cup of tea and float on home.
HEIRLOOM: All gifts are special. But one, the black scarf (my mum called it, properly, a "stole") modeled here by my niece, Hannah, has an extra measure of blessing attached. My brother Geoff gave it to my mum back in the 1960's. Yesterday she passed it on to his daughter.
The passing on of an heirloom gift is always loaded with meaning; it's like my mum took a piece of herself and said, "Here, Hannah: the love, and the faith, the spontaneity, the extravagance, and the over-the-top verve - the qualities that characterized your father even when he was a child - are all wrapped up in this stole."
STOLE: In the church, the pastor's stole is deliberately heavy. The stole symbolizes the weight and the responsibility of the office, the fact that care is both privilege and duty; not an encumbrance so much as a trust.
The gift was, in a sense, a passing on of the privilege of care along with the sentimental value of the stole as an heirloom piece.
That's the power and the layered richness of family; so much of it unspoken; so much of the meaning and the reach of the ties that bind, unconscious; so many nuances unthought or - consciously at least, unintended.
JUST ANOTHER DAY? So, is any coming together of family ever just a meal and a party and laughter and fun? No, of course not. We were created, in the beginning, for relationships, and to live in community. God designed us that way. And, to the extent that we embrace the opportunity family affords for us to live out the intention of our creation, then we are living faithful lives.
We all wear the stole, symbolically, when we acknowledge our family name...