Wow! That week went nothing like planned. For the first time in years, I actually finished my Christmas shopping, getting something for everyone on my list (except one person) by 10:15 p.m. Dec. 23. (And I stumbled across the perfect gift for that person while dining together Christmas Eve and was able to make the purchase!)
As I was finishing up my shopping and growing in my sense of accomplishment, I was also growing anxious about the weather and whether these gifts would make it to their recipients. Was it possible I would have the gifts to give, but miss the best gift of all, which is seeing my family to whom I wanted to give gifts? Yes, it was highly possible, as it turned out.
I don't know how to adequately thank my boss and the people I work most closely with for making it possible for me not to have to try to drive 25 miles north from Norman to north Oklahoma City by myself in my Mustang in the sleet on Christmas Eve morning. I know it was a very busy day and difficult for all of them, workwise and travelwise. But I am convinced that, had I tried it, I would have been one of the many people stuck along the way who had to be rescued, either on the way to work (that's what I think) or on the way home. And if Gene and I would have waited any longer to head south to Texas, I don't think we would have made it. Even leaving at 12:30 p.m., those first 15 miles were treacherous enough that if I had been by myself, I would have tried to turn back. (And I probably would have ended up getting stuck in the process.)
As it turned out, we were finally able to make it to McKinney Thursday evening to spend Christmas Eve and much of Christmas Day with Gene's sister and her son. And then we were able to head to Mom and Dad's house west of Gainesville while my brother and his family from Arkansas were still there. Then we stayed with another sister west of Muenster, where more of the family arrived to celebrate on Saturday. I ended up getting to see everyone except one sister (who lives near the homeplace but had to work), a niece, a newlywed nephew and his wife, a newlywed niece and her husband and the fiancee of another nephew.
And although I didn't get to go to Christmas Eve worship, and I chose one more meal with family members over going to worship this morning, I went to Sunday school with Mom, and it's such a great class and lesson that I felt like I'd been to church.
Now we're back home in Norman. Our kitty was glad to see us; she was safe and sound. Gene shoveled the driveway and we ventured out again to Walmart, which surprisingly had not done a very good job of clearing its parking lot. I guess they saw no need to do better, since people were flocking in anyway!
There's so much more I could write, but I have things to do (including pet my kitty some more) before I head to work tomorrow. But I wanted to write this bit while it's fresh in my mind. I'm pretty sure I'll add to it and maybe even post some pictures.
I will add right now that even though, without the Christmas Eve service, some of the "reason for the season" focus of Christmas wasn't felt as clearly, I probably prayed more than I ever have during that drive from Norman to McKinney. And I'm really glad Mom went to Sunday school this morning and I could go, too. I just see more evidence every day that God wants me to put Him first -- to seek to know and do His will and NEVER to forget or ignore Him. It doesn't mean I have to spend all my time at church or reading the Bible or praying or forcing people to sing carols and read the Christmas story from the Bible when we're together. But it does mean that the time I spend in those ways will be rewarded and blessed, and that it will equip me to know how to live the rest of the moments to their fullest.
For all these reasons and so many more, I am grateful and blessed!