I suppose some background info might be helpful. The past two weeks have been as hectic for me as the rest of the Christmas crazed females living here in the US. Add a stomach virus, a crisis at the women’s shelter where I work, and the anticipated – any day now – arrival of our twin grandbabies…and there you have it: hectic.
So, among the other things on our holiday agenda, is perfect husbands’ company Christmas party, for 40+ at our house. No false platitudes here, we really and truly have the greatest group of people on the planet, working with us. This is our once a year, very big deal, party to honor them.
Dawn breaks the day of the party… dreary and frigid. I know this because I’m there to greet it. All that is yet to be done is looming large, and I can’t sleep.
So after my thyroid meds, 3 cups of coffee, a rice cake with almond butter (Gross- I know. Welcome to breakfast for someone with a gluten, egg ,and dairy, allergy), I take a hot shower, pull on my yoga pants- the ones that haven’t seen the gym in 2 weeks- and I’m out of the gate running, sprinting for the finish line.
The morning goes amazingly well.
I start in the dining room- setting everything up to my standard of excellence.
It’s that whole first child syndrome thing.
Every wrinkle is out of the carefully selected linens, the table is perfectly laid, all the serving dishes meticuloulsy placed, the beverage bar is Ritz Carlton worthy…you get the picture.
I move to the kitchen- and am astounded that it isn’t even 11 a.m. yet. “YES!, I am SOOO good!” I think to myself.
I then plunge headlong into the kitchen duties…appetizer prep, more beverages, and flower assembly.
I’m awaiting delivery of a professionally done arrangement for the dining room, but chose to do the kitchen ones myself to save money, which was, my rather weak and pitiful nod to frugality.
I glance at the clock, and am far too impressed with my efficiency at this point…which should have been a glaring warning sign in and of itself.
Pride has just reared it’s ugly head.
And then, I hear it. The door bell.
“Hmm, who could that be? Too early for the florist,” I think.
But no, to my delight, there at the door is the delivery guy with THE most breathtaking, enormous array of white flowers and greenery that I have ever beheld.
Picture an profusion of eggshell colored hydrangeas, snow colored roses, sweet peas that look like pearls, snapdragon that resemble miniature snowflakes on a stem.
Not only is it lovely, but it’s a treat for your nose, too.
Add to the prevelant sweet garden aroma the subtle scent of fresh pine greenery, and well- you’d never replicate that intoxiacting smell in a laboratory.
This master size portrait of petals and auro of heady perfume is to be placed atop an utterly stunning clear pedestal filled with delicate white lights.
I can hardly stand it- it’s just too dang gorgeous!!!
I’m inwardly patting myself on the back right now for this Christmas party display of splendor that I’ve created and coordinated.
I directed my tall courier toward the buffet where his cargo will take center stage. He places the pedestal perfectly in the middle and lifts the arrangement, in all it’s glory.
I mean, really.
There should have been trumpets playing the Halleluiah Chorus.
I have absolutely no idea how it happened- but the next thing I know, there is an explosion of glass, and a juggling of flora.
The vase has toppled over, bounced once on the marble buffet top before coming to it’s final resting place(s).
On the buffet, on the floor, on the table, behind the curtains, in all the glasses, sprinkled among the petit four dessert cups…multiple large and small pieces of glass- along with a billion shards- everywhere.
The instant my eyes met his- I completely forgot about my party.
His shoulders slumped.
He dropped his eyes to the floor, looked at his feet (covered in glass) and slowly shook his head from side to side.
“I…I don’t know what happened, I am just so…sorry”.
Then he lifted his head and met my gaze.
Upon which time, he entered this sort of dazed and defeated oral scramble… rambling and tentative.
“Maybe, the shop has another one….the traffic is so bad….when’s your party? Do you have a broom? Do you have a mop?…” All of this mumbled in a whisper.
Don’t ask me why-it surely wasn’t my diligence- because of course, I had skipped my meeting with God that morning due to MY busy schedule; but, He still spoke to my heart.
Sweetly, and clearly.
“SO, this is your chance, do you REALLY mean what you say???? The truth about me, and my priorities that you so freely preach to my other children???”
“Help me here, God, please help me.” I pleaded.
And He did.
This most amazing calm, instantly permeated my entire being.
“OK,” I began with a chuckle, “This is just NOT a big deal. Cancer is a big deal, war is a big deal, homelessness is a big deal, a bunch of flowers and a glass vase are NOT a big deal”.
If only I had a picture of his face. Massive relief meets complete bewilderment.
I remember this OTHER pedestal vase that has been in our foyer closet for ages.
I make my way to retrieve the broom and I direct him to the closet to get the vase.
We meet back in the dining room. I have the broom and dustpan in my hand.
In his (VERY secure) grasp is the pedestal vase. This precious young man is glowing like he just found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
We then both set about the laborious task of cleaning up this horrendous mess.
In the process, I learn he has been married for less than a year. He and his wife moved here from a small town south of our area, to find work.
I truly wish I could craft on paper, what God was doing in my heart. I didn’t give a second thought to what would have to be thrown out or redone. I didn’t look at the clock.
In short, He just didn’t allow me to count the cost of what didn’t matter.
And I made a friend.
When the part of the cleanup that he could contribute to was completed, we primped the flowers, and at last- he carefully placed them atop the other pedestal, and securely set them on the buffet.
I asked him to wait a minute.
I went to get his tip.
The one God told me to get.
The tip that would have been borderline extravagant for perfect service.
I folded it- and presented it to him….telling him what God told me to tell him.
“Merry Christmas, God loves you.”
His eyes were a little misty- as he protested in a hushed voice, “Oh, no ma’am, I could never take this”.
“Yes, you can, because it’s not from me, it’s from God, and HE wants you to have it.”
He gave me that awkward hug that a young man gives someone who was total stranger a scant hour ago.
And… God gave this hypocritical, priority challenged daughter of His… yet another “crash” course in Christmas.
Only possible through the extravagant undeserved gift, of His son Jesus.
How I pray, that maybe I learned it for good this time.