It was Christmas Eve Eve fifteen years ago and I was standing in the almost deserted parking on the main street of a small Vermont town. Steady snow was adding charm to the atmosphere and mush beneath my feet. Since it was nearly 4 pm, it was getting dark, and one of the only places still open was the large county courthouse behind me. A lot of my past was behind me, too, as a few minutes before, my husband of many years had divorced me.
It was a hard date for such a difficult occasion, as this day before Christmas Eve had been a family tradition of fun and gatherings. But not tonight. He drove off and I stood in the silence of the snow contemplating my aloneness. Who would have thought this would be me?
The next day, Christmas Eve was spent trying to reconcile my expectations of the holiday to the reality I was given: all four of my mostly grown children had to be elsewhere for that day and most of Christmas. They apologized, and promised to see me Christmas night. I had no other family anywhere nearby. And it was snowing more, and I was going to be alone. Years of sweet Christmas scenes of my past paraded past my mind, warm celebrations in California, and more recent ones in cold Vermont, where we had moved.
Okay, I sat alone in my little apartment and talked to myself, after a few tears. I told myself that I could chose to have a real pity party for my freshly divorced new identity, or celebrate with the real Christmas Himself, Jesus. While I thought about it, I got a strong sense that the Lord was enjoying the idea of me spending the special day thinking of Him. He helped me feel thankful for the present, be comforted in a very real way, and to know I certainly was not alone.
Even now, as I share this and think of that past time, I am reviewing what really happened on Christmas Day, and realizing how I have gotten too caught up in the preparations again for this Christmas. It was really the best one ever, because I welcomed the King of Kings into my celebration.