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December 27, 1998

Christmas 1998

It wasn't supposed to be this way. According to my plan I figured that I would be in California probably still trying to adjust to the time difference and perhaps climbing the mountains a little higher to encounter snowfall so that I could claim a white Christmas.

But here I was in snow covered Kentucky having survived a harrowing trip through ice and snow and now sitting in my Explorer trying to warm the engine so that I could take my parents to Midnight Mass. The temperature on the handy thermometer inside the cab alerted me to the fact that it was a whopping 15 degrees outside.

Making our way through the mostly abandoned streets of Somerset, KY we found the church that I had only passed by once before. There was a small crowd gathered for the service, the type that usually draws a standing room only crowd, but here there were plenty of seats. The church was warm and a red candle burned in each large stained glass window adding another touch of warmth.

The Mass went as it usually does but the remarkable aspect of it was the music. The music was the best I had ever heard in any church and I have been in a lot of churches and have heard a lot of very good choirs but this music was on a different plane. A simple ensemble of a few guitars, piano, violin and flute carried me to another level in their crisp and very professional arrangements. Several songs that they did have not left me and continue to play in my head even after several days have passed.

When we went home my sister met us at the door. She was the primary reason we had made this trek. She was due to have a baby on the 23rd of December the day that I had drove up to KY, but was past due now and after a doctor's appointment earlier in the day it looked like the baby might wait until 1999 to be born. The doctor had felt she was at least another week before she would deliver.

Which was rather sad news for me since I had only planned on staying up here until Saturday.

We all made our way to bed, my bed being the couch. My bother-in-law was already fast asleep and the small home was filled with the loud noise of his snoring. My sister was in and out of the bathroom and finally moved out to the living room and sat on the recliner saying that she could not sleep. I mumbled something from my vantagepoint still half-asleep.

A few hours later she was on the way to the hospital and by lunchtime on Christmas day I had a new nephew named Joshua.

The naming of the child seems to have taken on biblical overtones not to unlike the naming of Zechariah and Elizabeth's child John. It seems there was a heavy desire that the child be named after his father and grandfather who share the same name but for some reason the parents both felt this was the right name for him. Spending Christmas Day in the nursery struck me as rather Christmas-sy in a way that most people never think of it. After all it is a day that celebrates birth yet I wonder if I have ever spent a Christmas with that focus before this one.

There was no opening of gifts on Christmas morning but there was the advent of expectation and then the revelation of what had lain hidden. The miracle of a new creation coming from two parents, two families and all those who have cared for them now was revealed.

Holding Joshua in my hands I felt him squirming around and peeking out from under his heavy eyelids to check out what it was that he had entered into.

It made me wonder too.

I wish each of you who read this journal the blessing of a new birth, a new start and a very Happy New Year!

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