The Perfect Holiday
The Perfect Holiday
It started well.
I conducted the church choir in the annual Christmas cantata and did not hear one spot that was weakly sung. Nothing. They held together like the charge of the light brigadewithout fear. Not that I was surprised or anything. But you have to know about Baptist choir rehearsals-they usually are notoriously disheartening.
Sort of like, as a token of good luck, saying to an actor who is about to go on stage, “Break a leg!”
And half the time, they do. Only, to say I was proud of our choir would be an understatement.
Then, sometime afterwards, one member pulled me aside and said something that gave me pause. It had to do with one who had passed on, and who used to be in attendance at such times in our congregation.
The moment brought the event into context for me and I was touched-not just about our recital, but about the importance it represented for all of us collectively. It was a landmark of the season-or as our forefathers used to call it-part of the foundation of our faith.
Then, after the service, we ate out.
Funny that… for our pastor and his family walked in the door just after us.
It was particularly funny because the restaurant had run out of tables in the main dining area and therefore, the waiter had seated my wife and I in the bar at a table.
At first, when I saw him come in the door, I entertained the idea that someone from church might have tipped him off and told him we were spotted in a local bar.
In which case, there was always excommunicationor whatever they were calling it these days. Luckily, that was not so, he informed me.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Which gave us time to reflect on the good service and the joyous time of year, and enjoy the company of our comrades.
The meal was a surprise to us as well.
It was the best entrée we ever had at this particular restaurant. The fare was seasoned perfectly, cooked absolutely right and we were generously rewarded for our decision to come there-even though we had just minutes earlier expressed our reservations about the place.
We left, well satisfied by the meal, however.
Then, we left for a shopping trip and drove to a few of our favorite haunts in Jonesboro.
Where I found the perfect coat.
No… I take that back… my wife found it.
“What about this one?” she said, lifting it off a rack. I eyed it and found the color an alluring brown, the neck with a lined collar-just like I had been searching for.
Yet I had my reservations. Most coats of that type were distinctively lightminus the insulation they should have, a shell hardly worth dragging home.
I took a breath and reached for it, expecting the worse.
And in my grasp, the heft of the coat pulled my arm down.
Could it be? Here, at least was a distinctively solid outerwear, suitably fit for wearing?
Then I slipped it on.
My body went, “O-o-o-oh” and then “A-a-a-ah.”
Warmth spread out to my limbs as the coat wrapped around my skin and caressed it softly.
My wife said, “It looks good on you… really good.”
I found a mirror to look into and saw an old man looking back at me, wearing the same coat I had just picked out.
And I was sold.
I expressed to my wife, “Cha-ching! Sold.”
Then, later in the week, we were invited to a Christmas party by friends. Mostly, these things are family affairs, so I was rather reticent to attend. Yet, when they called and were insistent on the invitation, we went.
And were amply rewarded once more by the cheery atmosphere, the friendly extended hospitality and warmth of our hosts. And it gave me a chance to exchange conversation that needed to be expressedabout the times and experiences we had in common, and what we learned of life and the importance of the holidays.
So that by the time we got back home, my spouse and I were truly filled with the spirit of the season. The next day, we visited with our own family members and once more were reminded of this time of year being a one for sharing.
By this time, the events of the year had begun to recede from our minds, as this had been a challenging one, to be sure. And the hardened shell of it was melting from around our hearts, freeing us to enjoy our time together in the spirit of reflection upon it and the celebration of Christmas.
It had come just in time.
In exactly the same way that the Christ had come to earth as a baby in a lowly manger-in the fullness of time.
Have a good New Year, all!
By Robert L. Hall