Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Brunch Redux

Despite this image of our cats at full holiday alert, today is a time for our family to do again what we have always done. Perhaps more than any other occasion Christmas is when repetition is not only accepted, it is seemingly required. The "reason for the season" is certainly nested in joy, hope, love, and peace--the quartet of Advent themes we revisit each year in scripture, carols, and homilies.

But these redemptive principles can be easily lost in the McMurray household if they are not accompanied by a Christmas morning regimen that includes a traditional family brunch. The menu is composed of a special casserole fixed on no other day but this one, a cup of eggnog, something we call monkey bread, and a glass of sparkling grape juice. Our sons insist that the menu must be unchanged. Did I mention they're 32 and 28?

This year our immediate family is spending the holiday in Lexington, Kentucky, where our oldest son, Jeff, now lives. We are accompanied by our other son, Brian, and his wife, Lyda. Everything is different about this Christmas. For years our extended family has met at our house for a Christmas Eve dinner. This year we had to move it back a week because of our Kentucky sojourn. As the family begins to birth a new generation it is becoming obvious that flexibility must be the rule.

But some things will remain unchanged. The Christmas brunch, its menu unaltered, will make its Kentucky debut in Lexington today. My wife Joyce sometimes feels the burden of having to prepare the brunch, beginning with the night before, especially when Christmas Eve has been busy with dinner, clean up, and last minute wrapping of presents. But I also know she quietly cherishes the importance our family places on a tradition she initiated many years ago.

We've had our ups and downs as a family. Like so many, we've struggled through some difficult and demanding times, particularly in recent years. It is remarkable, perhaps even miraculous, that the promised blessings of joy, hope, love, and peace arrive persistently for us in the form of a Christmas casserole served around a common table.

Some things never change. Hallelujah!

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