Certain Man has today and tomorrow off — as well as half of Thursday. One of the perks of living in slower, lower DE, is that if you are a state employee and live or work in Sussex County, you still get to celebrate “Returns Day” with a half day off. There is no other place in the United States that still celebrates this holiday, so we think it is pretty special! Two days after election day, there is a parade, and the candidates ride together in open carriages and there is a symbolic “burying of the hatchet”. (I wonder if the “two Chris people” will be able to do this. ) All this on Thursday afternoon. So this week is one when Certain Man decided that, with all his time off, he was going to get his Christmas Village up.
I know, I know. It is early. But it is another one of those years when the Yutzy family will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday and “Little Christmas” on Saturday of the same week. This is what our family does when one of our offspringin’s can’t be here for actual Christmas. We decorate the tree, we set up the village, we hang the stockings, we draw the names. And then on the eve of the last day that the particular child is home, we have “Little Christmas”. I make shrimp chowder, bring out the sparkling fruit juices, and we eat our traditional Christmas Eve meal together. Then the family does the gift exchange arising out of the name drawing, and the departing member gets her Stocking gifts and any other gifts that the family is going to give her.
I’m in a love/hate relationship with this arrangement. And this week, I turned the calendar page and I can no longer ignore the notations there: November 19th: To Ohio — Commissioning. November 20th: Rachel home from Ohio. And then a week with heart stickers and various appointments and celebrations. Then, November 28th — Rachel back to Ohio. And December 2nd, penciled in the empty places at the end of the week on the November page — Rachel flies to Thailand.
I stand out on the back deck this evening after the chilly night has moved in, look up at the expanse of stars that light our dark corner of Delaware and sing a song of parting and sad farewell. My voice, getting old sounding now, and cracking on the higher notes, feels insignificant against the darkness. I think about partings and how we have no promise of tomorrow and I blink back the tears and come back into the warmth and light of my laundry room. There is so much that I could finish tonight if I just would. Standing by my trusty washer and dryer, I feel the dead sadness in my soul, and put my head against the cool metal and whisper a prayer for my far away girlie and for all the things that feel so out of my control right now. But I know that someone will catch me if I linger there too long and worry. So once again, I blink back the tears and take the clothes out of the dryer. They are warm and clean and dry and they smell so incredibly good. I find myself feeling so grateful for these machines that make my life so much easier.
It’s a good time to count blessings. There is an honest need to focus here. Not to deny the sadness. Not to pretend that everything is okay. But to acknowledge that God has blessed this family abundantly. He loves our offspringin’ with a far greater love than Certain Man and I can imagine. He is to be trusted to reach where our hands cannot. He will do far more than we can ask or think, and for this, I give grateful praise.