The extended family has gone home, the house has been tidied, stray toys and pieces of toys have been corralled to be returned to their respective child owners, and most of the dishes at least have been put in the dishwasher.
We're afraid to run the dishwasher because, in what has become a Sherrod family holiday tradition, the plumbing decided to act up. This time, it was the garbage disposal that decided to act up. It not only quit working, it also began to spit things back at us and kept the sink draining v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Just what we needed with twenty extra people in the house.
But Christmas itself is exactly what we needed. The Christmas pageant at our parish on Christmas Eve was particularly wonderful this year, with great hosts of angels (some very very tiny), an entire FLOCK of sheep (a couple of which got squirmy and were "controlled" by stern shepherds), and shepherds of various sizes and shapes (one of whom was so overwhelmed by it all that he was carried in his mother's arms for the entire thing.)
(Photo courtesy of Barbi Click, whose own angels are in the lower right hand corner of the photo in their lovely dresses with black velvet tops and organza skirts.)
One angel was especially dramatic, flinging an arm out to emphasize the amazing announcement he got to make to the shepherds. Mary was about a head-and-a-half taller than Joseph, and the Innkeeper came to about the waist of the Innkeeper's "wife," but they all did their parts exceedingly well.
The three kings wore bejeweled cowboy hats -- well, this IS Texas -- and followed a very stern angel carrying a very impressive star. They knelt to present their gifts, each making a terse announcement of "gold," incense" or "myrrh."
I had a great seat for this, because I was part of the "backup band and singers" for the pageant. We were there only to give musical accompaniment and add a tiny bit of oomph to the singing if needed. But the children and congregation sang lustily and joyously, welcoming the Child with great delight.
The pageant served as the readings and the sermon, so after Mary and Joseph, and the angels, and the sheep, and the shepherds, and the kings, and the Innkeeper, and the Innkeeper's wife had returned to the pews to sit with their proud families, we all shared the Eucharistic meal interspersed with all the beloved hymns of Christmastide.
We processed out singing "Joy to the World" and proceeded to the Parish Hall, where we had a fabulous birthday party for Jesus. Jesus had a "cake" made of cupcakes this year. My 3-year-old grandson Gavin loves what he calls "pupcakes" and he was thrilled to learn that Baby Jesus likes them too!
There was much hugging among the parish family. We were all so happy to set aside anxiety and worry about the future and just live in the moment.
After all, The Baby has arrived!
Once again, Hope has been born into the world.