Sometimes you know exactly what lies ahead.  

”Like on Christmas Eve,” Pepper said (watching me make sausage balls, licking her lips).

“There’s a beautiful Christmas tree

And a wreath

And carolers in period costume

… And you know that Christmas is just ahead,” she concluded cheerfully.

”I guess so, Pep,” I said, taking the first batch out of the oven. “But I’m not sure we ever know exactly what’s ahead, even at Christmas.”

”What do you mean?” she replied, trying to snatch a sausage ball from the counter.

“Christmas isn’t only the manger and sausage balls and merry-making. There’s also the scary elf in the house, working his mischief and sorrow. 

There’s the sadness of those who are coming untethered from time, living in an eternal present when a moment fades as quickly it has come and gone. There’s the sadness of those who are coming untethered from love.

Even if you get through Christmas with your heart mostly intact you’re looking down the gun barrel of the New Year not sure what to expect.

The New Year might hold rainbows and smiley faces in the cross-hairs

Or a rose blooming in December

But dark skies also threaten.

Sometimes the journey ahead seems – long

and the work ahead seems – daunting

when you’re thinking about what you expect

Of course sometimes the sky is all alight

And now that I think of it,

sometimes the road ahead is clear even if it’s rocky

And sometimes there is a cross in the sky

Reminding you to look ahead and move forward with fortitude and courage, generosity and an open heart. A heart that can receive love and grace. The Cross was inside the manger, you know.”

I was finally quiet.

“That was really a lot,” Pepper said. “Could I have a sausage ball now?”

I laughed. “Yes. You are good at receiving with an open heart.”

“And an open mouth,” she replied with a smile.


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