"I need Christmas to happen to me."
An honest prayer after a long, hard season. No idea how it could happen. I mean, not like Jesus is going to show up in a manger twice. Not like I had the clarity of mind or body to go see Him even if He did. No clue how God could pull this off, but He is God. If anyone could do it, He could.
Then came the dental reality.
The shock of seeing my sinus cavity sitting on the roots of my teeth because the bone wasn't thick enough to cover the root tips. The root canal gone wonky. Then the mother of dental complications.
I've had teeth extracted before. 48 hours of medicated dreamland. A few more days of letting the gums heal, and all is good in the world.
Not this time.
This time the tooth broke multiple times. The dentist had to drill it out, which was not my idea of happy. As he said, he used everything but a surgeon to remove that tooth, but that really wasn't the worst part. The worst part was the post from my previous crown had punctured my sinus cavity, which created a perforated sinus. What does that mean? It means I could breath through my mouth via my nose through the hole left by the tooth my dentist removed. It also means off the chart sinus pain that seems to radiate through my entire head that even piggybacking ibuprofen and hydrocodone doesn't kill. It also means sleeping on my couch where I am propped up to lessen the pressure and thus keeping my head from exploding, which seems counter intuitive when trying to stop this much pain, but somewhere in the dizzying pain and medication created fog, I keep hearing, "You've got kids to raise," so I'm propped up and not exploding.
It also means our decision not to "do Christmas" this year was a good one.
A few weeks ago, we opted for a never-done-by-us-before Christmas. No tree. No lights. No decorations. No gifts.
Not being a humbug. Not anti-Christmas. Just tired of Christmas as it is.
Tired of the stress. Tired of figuring out how to get everything done in this tiny time frame. Tired of Christmas being something we do. I wanted Christmas to be something we experience.
This year was an experience. This is what I wrote friends Christmas Eve:
"Leanna texted this morning to see how I am and listened to my tired and frustrated rant, and she just told me she loves me and is sending hugs and is sorry. It was the perfect response. I’ve learned real love just accepts you in your misery and doesn’t have to make you better but loves you and hugs you where you are, and Leanna loves deeply. It is an amazing thing she does.
It’s a pretty amazing gift actually.
And there are other gifts.
Our neighborsTim and Cynthia, whom I enjoyed a morning with coffee with this week, brought by delicious baked goods. She makes sugar cookies look like art, and when he found out I am still not doing well, he immediately wanted to know what we need and how they can help. They had offered to take me to the dentist and drive me home so I would not have to drive while medicated last Friday. Truly, they are precious and such blessings.
Our other friends and neighbors Dawna and Chris called to wish us a Merry Christmas this morning, and I could not talk, so I texted and explained the situation. Dawna texted back and asked what we need. I told her prayer; I am weary. She asked if they can have the kids this evening and take them to their family gathering. They have something like 20 grandkids of various ages, and the kids can join the fun. As she said, “There will be kids and fun and noise.” So they are taking the kids, and she is bringing me a plate of sweet potatoes back with them.
It’s funny how when we get past the can’t-believe-how-ugly-it-looks wrapping and the lopsided bow, we can see the gifts we really want and need. This is not how I planned to spend Christmas, not what I would have ever asked for, and yet, it is. It is quiet. It is restful. And my goodness it is dripping with love.
A few weeks ago I wrote in my journal, “I need Christmas to happen to me. I have no idea how. I just need it.”
Well, let me tell you how. You have a root canal that goes wonky and hurts for nearly 2 weeks, and just as it gets better, have 3 teeth removed. Let one of those teeth be majorly complicated that results in a hole that goes through the bone and into your sinuses that feels like the pain of a dry sock and sinus infection all rolled into one. Be totally useless. Really. All you can do is sleep on your couch because motion, talking, laughing, eating causes pain and reopens that hole, so all you can do is sit and sleep and do and say nothing. You are a lump, and you have to sleep on the couch because it props you up. To lie down is to make your whole head want to explode.
Now take this very inglorious lump with the swollen face…and make it loved.
Not because it has anything to give, not even a Christmas card or a cookie, but just because it is and because there are people who have compassion and kindness and maybe know what it is to need or maybe just know what it is to give…what it is to love…
And that is Christmas. Right here on my couch. Christmas.
Can you imagine the craziness of it all?
But then, it is Christmas, and really, a King in a stable all because a perfect God loved wildly? Does it get any crazier than that?
Yep. On my couch. Christmas."