What Room There May Be

The last white Christmas I remember was many years ago, at a time when I was entertaining on the regular, and I was getting ready for my annual Solstice party.  The idea of celebrating the Solstice horrified my mother, even when I explained it was the most benign of parties,  merely a symbolic awaiting for the return of the light, but she was having none of it. 

Early on the day of the party I began receiving calls from guests who were traveling for the holiday.  They had decided to leave town early to beat the weather and so had to send regrets.  Because I was busy cooking and cleaning I hadn’t watched the news for a couple of days and assumed my pals were worried about the weather where they were headed. 

As I saw off the last of my guests that night,  it began to rain a little, maybe a flake or two thrown in.  I awoke the next morning to a foot of snow, as unexpected and as magical as I remember snow when I was a child.  We were snowbound for several days, with only the most trepidatious sorties out for family gatherings, or supplies. 

Again, we look to the skies for signs of snowfall.  We are assured the temperatures will be frigid, dangerously and life-threatening cold, with or without the white stuff.  The eight-year old kid in me hopes for snow, the running to the front door at night, checking for the shimmery swirl of flakes in the lamplight.  Peeking through the blinds in the middle of the night, the way the room is brighter in the morning after a snow, even with the shades drawn, the thrill of untouched drifts in the backyard. 

But another part of me has already been on the phone minding other people’s business as it pertains to their Friday appointments in Nashville.  Already I have offered my car to make a late-in-the-week airport run because I have all-wheel drive, and I think those are magic words this time of year. I have helped to crash the weather website I like best, checking every half hour or so for updates, even though the updates are still just speculation, at least for snowfall.

I have the luxury of sitting in my warm little house with no travel plans and dreaming of snow.  And I also have the grown-up worry of traveling loved ones, icy steps and pregnant nieces. I have become my worry-wart grandmother. I am not just concerned about my family, either, but yours, and anyone who will travel, or have their travel plans derailed because of the bitter cold, the snow that will fall somewhere this Christmas weekend. The disappointment of that.

To be on the road, and cold, and worried—pregnant, perhaps, and stranded.  This is how the Christmas story begins. An ordinary, “story of my life” kind of tale that seems to hit hardest those with the least. 

The innkeeper often comes off badly in Nativity plays.  We think he’s mean.  Yet, he didn’t turn them away.  He sent them around back, to the only sheltered place he had left.  Might he have brought them blankets?  We don’t know, but, surely if he had one to spare he would have.  Some bread, an oil lamp for the long night ahead. 

I chatted today with my friend, Kveta, by email, sending her Christmas greetings and remembering our time together in Ukraine. War-town, cold and cast into darkness now, and what can we do?  The suffering in so many places.  It is enough to make us hide in our beds and view the world through the same blinds we peek through, waiting for snow.  

We only have so much room. 

But might we still be a blanket for others, that manger of hay?  Might we look for and keep some small corner swept out and tidy, somewhere warm and safe for anyone who needs it?

The gift of that. Small perhaps, but loving.  Just enough, and therefore, perfect. 

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