It was Christmas Eve and our little brick house in Iowa was warm with holiday cheer. A fire blazed. Sweet honey ham baked in the oven. The table was a bountiful sight – salads and breads and desserts with chocolaty swirls. Warm cider bubbled on the stovetop and the music was just right.
I’d been working all day.
Logan and Grant were small boys back then, and they pressed little hands against the living room window while they looked up the snowy lane and waited for my parents to arrive. When Nana and Papa finally pulled into the drive, the boys charged to the door. Mom and Dad came in on a hefty December gust, and they bent to hug each boy.
As I carried their coats to the closet, I glanced at the table. The place settings sparkled red and gold. Candles flickered in a welcoming way. A fresh Christmas centerpiece offered a lovely, deep green. We were in for a special evening.
But it didn’t go as I had planned.
“Logan, why are you so full of energy? Please settle down. We can’t hear the music.” In the next breath, “Grant, this isn’t the time for dancing. Still, quiet bodies.” The boys had gone wild with excitement and the evening seemed to roll out of control. “Lonny, please settle the children. It’s time for dinner.”
Lonny tried his best, but his efforts were without fruit. It wasn’t that the boys were disobedient. It was more like they just couldn’t put a cap on the excitement that bubbled in their souls. As I pulled the ham from the oven, they burst into a scene from their Sunday School Christmas program. When I called them to the table, they rushed toward their chairs in a rush of loud song.
My breaking point was when I found GI Joe on my chair, a slice of very nice cheese tethered to his back. I left the table and started to cry.
Dad found me in the kitchen. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and pulled me in. For a few minutes it was quiet. Then, in a tender, fatherly way, my dad spoke. “Shawnie, dinner is going to be lovely. I can see you’ve worked so hard. We all appreciate what you’ve done.”
I wiped a tear and smiled.
Dad continued. “Would it be okay,” he asked. “If I share something I’ve learned?”
“Darlin, sometimes the best memories happen when we don’t try so hard to create them” Dad squeezed me tight and whispered the last part in my ear.” Sometimes, if possible, we need to sit back, enjoy, and let God create the blessing.” Then he paused. After a moment he added, “and He will.”
I’ll never forget that evening. That moment in the kitchen with my Dad. And this year, when I plan and prepare and make things lovely (I just can’t find the off switch – it’s the way I am), I’ll remember to relax, enjoy, and let the Lord take the pressure off.
I’m sure He’ll bring the blessing. A wise man told me so.