The last of our Christmas parties has just dimmed out. The house still has that after party feel, cups here and there, a fridge full of leftovers, furniture arranged a bit funny to fit us all in, a sudden emptiness that fills in when the people file out.
Tonight we had some of the teens (who are no longer teens) who used to live with us over for a little reunion Christmas party. There is something particularly comforting about their presence, almost like they are the PB&J of friendships. We laugh about old times. The former roommates crack inside jokes and share embarrassing stories. The girlfriends wander to the kitchen in search of female company (this year every guy brought a date, which was fun) and seem each a bit relationally hungry for an older woman to chat with.
It was bliss. Our little boys welcomed everyone as they passed around the Wii remotes, begging for help to beat a dungeon they have been stuck in for days. Then we ate, and the boys both opted to sit at the other table (away from Garrett and me), chatting happily with old and new friends.
Dessert. Laughter. Gifts. More dessert. Coffee.
It's good for me to be reminded of the sweetness that was there in our time at the boys home. Sometimes my memory tends to paint the whole picture of that era in blacks and grays, making me wonder how and why did we ever stay so long. But then I am here on a night like tonight, and I think, "Aha! That's right. Now I remember...those were some pretty special days with some very special people."
The truth is, those six years were not awful, they were hard. It occurred to me as I shined up a silver dish today (yes- the one silver dish that I have) that I often wish God's work in my life was more like this. Why can't He just clean up the surface, shine me up with a little soft cloth and make me appear new? Instead He opts for the forging fire approach, determined to purge my soul that it might, in time, show on the outside. I guess He knows what He is about, as the Great Refiner of the ages. But my flesh wishes that it was quicker and not so uncomfortable.
My favorite time in a party is The Lingering, when all initial awkwardness is done, the meal is over, and everyone is just staying because they want to stay. It's the pull of relationship, the desire to meet and give and take and breathe each other in for just a bit more. If I could bottle it up, I would save it for rainy days and savor it a bit at a time.
And so the Christmas parties are done. I am ready to relax and just revel in Christmas. I'm about half way done with my shopping (just kidding...less than that....kidding again- I'm done AND wrapped!)
So Merry Christmas to all- and to all a good night!