'Tis the Night before Night Before Christmas, and all seems to be calm, though big promises of snow a-comin' hang like lanterns on the weatherclip, with an icy breath of freeze down the stairs whenever the door is opened..
And my heart is full, tonight, thinking of our family and all our lovies; we'll be only six at table tomorrow night for our Christmas Eve Bean Soup supper. Our children are scattered all over the country, and our thoughts and prayers are with each and every one---with our oldest son in Mississippi, and his family; with our second-oldest, who lives here near us, and his; with Caro, who is at work, and who cheerily invited me to "come up for coffee" in the morning, as I rise, and she is in the twilight of her own day. We'll talk of little things, she and I, of small chores to do before everyone arrives for supper, of the few last gifts needing paper and ribbon, of our hopes and wishes for the New Year.
And our daughter and son-in-law, and their three little ones---the ones I call the "Georgia Clan"---they're in a big new city right now, for several months, and are enjoying all the sights and sounds and the SNOW and all the history and museums and new adventures it brings. We'll be seeing them in the Spring, and are missing their bright presences in our house and at our table.
We're thinking of our son in Atlanta, who will join Chris in a trip to the coast to visit with his Mom after Christmas, as well as the son in Louisiana, and his sweet wife---they're expecting our seventh Grand-Child in the Spring, and they, as well as our California son, will be meeting Chris at his Mom's house, so they should have a wonderful time---Chris, all three boys, our dear daughter-in-law, and his Mom, for a few days together.
My dear Baby Sis and her family in Texas will all be together, in one of their rousing family holidays---they are all so witty and bright and fun, and we have hilarious times together---Sis says a visit isn't complete until she and I laugh til we wet our pants.
It sometimes seems as if the Lord has sprinkled our family out all over the country like a shower of salt, and I hope that's what we all are---Salt of the Earth people, sturdy and strong and true, adding a savor to the places we've landed, and sharing our blessings with those we're near.
I look forward to tomorrow, that most momentous of days, with its rich history and long traditions, and the meaning it has for all our family. The meditation in the small things, and the time together as we prepare and draw close and have a quiet meal together. That instinctive huddle of togetherness on a cold night---that's the original Gathering, and no amount of tinsel and paper could wrap that feeling in enough importance.
We'll pray together and eat a supper of centuries-old Southern dishes, and as we have a celebration feast of beans and cornbread, we'll feel ourselves as well fed as from golden plates, crystal bowls. We'll sing a bit after supper---some old carols, and some silly songs which delight the grandchildren.
I've talked to each one of the youngest four this past week, and they've all wished me "Merry Christmas!" Delightful to hear across the miles, straight into my heart.
The littlest one spent Monday with me; we colored and sang and read, and did her alphabet and number cards. She's surprising me with a word I didn't know she knew, or a simple sentence she's putting together.
As they left, she turned without prompting, going up the stairs, and sang out in the chirpiest little bird voice, "Merry Christmas, Ganjin! I love you!"
My heart is full and overflowing.