Not a creature was stirring

It’s Christmas Eve, and the rain hasn’t stopped since yesterday morning.

A few days ago, it was the shortest day of the year. I felt like it was time to go to bed at 4:30 pm. The darkness encroaches even further into daylight hours with this storm. Usually in December, we still have brilliant sunshine. Maybe this is what it feels like to live places where they have a real winter.

I know I’m not supposed to complain about rain when our whole state has been in a drought for years. It’s a joy to turn off my sprinklers. But rain raises the stakes for my daughter crossing the Grapevine down from Northern California. Our grandkids might get snowed in up in the San Bernardino Mountains. I won’t be able to seat some of my Christmas brunch guests outside by the pool. Complications I usually don’t have to consider.

Other places in California that are still recovering from wildfires will now have flooding and mudslides. Fortunately, that doesn’t affect our town, but we remember those displaced people in our prayers.

If rain brings nature’s renewal, I welcome it. Too bad this year with its continuing troubles couldn’t be washed away with the rain as well. It will be cozy to sit by the fireplace and sip hot cocoa. I can see the twinkling Christmas lights through the eyes of my seven-month-old grand twins.

It’s Christmas Eve. A quiet one this year but a refreshing deep breath as we turn the page to next year.

Stable

Today I found victory in the form of a wooden stable.

As I unpacked my Christmas decorations this year, I remembered how much I had lost. When my children were still in school, someone broke into our garage and stole all our Christmas boxes. It was only a few years after my husband died suddenly and left me with three elementary age children. A special level of Hell is reserved for those burglars.

Over the years, my husband’s mother had given my children a special ornament Christmas. We even had an ornament from my husband’s childhood Christmas tree. Although none cost much money, they were priceless. At the time, I didn’t have money to replenish my decorations, but some coworkers gave me their extra ornaments.

As I said, for those burglars, a special level of Hell.

Now my children are adults, off on their own quests. After years as a single mother, I finally remarried. Christmas is special in a different way. But when I unwrap my ornaments, they look unfamiliar. They hold memories for other people but not me.

A few years ago, a friend gave me a beautiful set of nativity scene figures. I searched the internet for a stable to with them, but everything was too expensive. Every year I would set them up on a side table, but the shepherds and three kings looked untethered without the stable backdrop.

This year, another friend took me to a huge craft and decorating store. All the Christmas décor was on sale, and customers were heaping their carts with gingham trees and wooden reindeer.

And there it was. Tucked into the shelf next to wreathes and stocking holders.

A stable, decorated with natural sticks and flocked with fake snow. The perfect size for my Nativity figures. And on sale for the price of two large Starbucks coffees.

Now when I sit by my Christmas tree and glance over at the table, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are tucked safely in a simple but elegant stable. The kings and even the cow and lamb approve.

My world feels a tiny bit right.