Now, Jim can cook up anything, which goes partly to why I married him. (I wrote his sausage gravy into my wedding vows.) So Jim volunteered to cook up Rachel's giant box of shrimp, and a little plan for New Year's Eve was hatched...insofar as I ever hatch up a plan, which is to say: we'll be here; c'mon over; and we'll have some good eatin's.
Early on New Year's Eve, Clementine went on an outing with Daddy, Mamaw, and Dandy, and I discovered that--with only Cade and Charleigh here--I could bake up a storm. I made Oreo Cake Balls, Trix Treats, and Cherry M&M cookies. Somewhere in the middle of all that madness, I remembered I needed to prepare unleavened bread for the communion service Fine Creek had planned for the next day.
Then I remembered that, in 2008, my family had begun the tradition of sharing the Lord's Supper with my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and nephews on New Year's Eve. For the first time in who knows how long, my family wasn't in East Tennessee for the holiday. I felt a pang of sadness for a few seconds, but then I knew what we needed to do. I called and asked Jim to bring home some grape juice.
So we pigged out: Jim and our girls; Jim's mom and her husband; Rachel, Scott, and Zach. I would've invited several others but wanted to be sensitive to my in-laws (especially my MIL, who refers to herself as being "a little backwards"). They'd driven all the way from East Tennessee to have Christmas with the children.
Small crowd, but it was family. Rachel said quietly, as she ate my salad: "Balsamic vinegar is another Bob thing." And I guess she and I have gotten good at it, over time: filling one another's voids.
Later, we all gathered in the living room. I led us in prayer. Jim led us in communion: my unleavened bread, sparkling juice in Dixie Cups. It felt like full circle to share the Lord's Supper with Rachel on New Year's Eve, because--back in 2008--she sparked my family's tradition.
After communion, Jim's mom said, with her Southern Drawl: "I know some people have a hard time with this because they feel unworthy. But we're every one unworthy. I look at this as a way of celebrating what the Lord done for us."
She couldn't have known my old battle, so--as I let my system digest the body and blood of Our Lord--I received her words, with victory, as confirmation.
And the next day (New Year's Day), I did it all over again.