Jim's concerns were broader than mine when it became necessary for me to start working nights; I fretted only in anticipation of missing Cade (who attends school during the day) and certain nighttime events, especially holiday ones. I prayed about these concerns and tried my best to trust that whatever was meant to work out, would.
Halloween rolled around, first, and I love halloween. One year when Cade was small, I taught a composition class three times in order to accommodate all the students in a class I'd cancelled: a class I'd been scheduled to teach on halloween night. It was worth it, too, to take Cade trick-or-treating.
I tried to get halloween off, this year, but got scheduled to work. Rachel suggested that we trick-or-treat with her family (and many others from our small group) at Bethpage Camp-Resort the Saturday before halloween, and upon hire at the restaurant, I had requested that night off...but only because I'd been paid generously to take some family photos. To further complicate matters, I was hoping to catch Cade's band performance (which I hadn't yet seen) at the Fall Classic.
In the end (and I can still scarcely believe it all worked out), the family asked to be photographed in the morning as opposed to the oft-requested afternoon; Jim, the little kids, and I enjoyed Bethpage to the fullest; and I made it to the late (10 pm) band performance.
I worked halloween night joyfully and met a customer for whom I pray often. He's an older gentleman and was alone on a slow night, so I did a rare thing: I sat down with him. He told me his wife had just died.
Next, Thanksgiving. Travel was impossible given that I had to work the days before and after, but the restaurant was closed, Thanksgiving day, and Cade and I spent hours hiking together.
After all this, I wish I could tell you I had no trepidation about Christmas, but I wondered about Christmas eve; I did. The restaurant is closed on Christmas day, but Cade spends Christmas day with his dad, Christmas eve with me. This is how we all prefer it; Cade's other family has a big meal on Christmas day, while this family attends candlelight service on Christmas eve. Amazingly, management granted not only my request to have Christmas eve off, but also lunch, today, to attend Jesus's birthday party at church.
Friday night, I walked into my section at work only to realize that Santa and Mrs. Claus were seated in one of my booths. When I introduced myself, Santa said: "I already know your name. And furthermore, I know you've been a very good girl this year." I burst into tears right there at the table.
Later, I said to a friend: "I was way too emotionally disregulated to serve Santa Claus!"
He shook his head, laughed, and said: "You were the perfect person! No one else would've cared as much as you. You got the full effect of what he was trying to do. I think it's awesome!" And, yes. Awesome. Because there's something no one--neither Santa nor my friend--knew.
My recent prayers have included my asking God to help me trust Him with my little-girl self, and I received Santa's visit as a response, from God, to that prayer. It was as if God were saying: I hear you (all of you, including the little-girl you), and I care about you, and I care very much about your Christmas. I couldn't wonder if God had sent Santa for my children because my children weren't present. I was alone. But I am never alone.
The further I journey, the more fully I believe that a relationship with God is just that: a relationship. It requires faith on my part (and sometimes, the suspension of disbelief). It requires my seeking with expectancy. I could chalk everything I've just shared and more! up to coincidence, luck, serendipity, fortune, or---I don't know--an alien spark? But I find it so much more thrilling to believe I am blessed...that God is using all things to my good: even (especially?) the hard things. Because if that's true, I have nothing to fear and everything to anticipate with joy. Bad is good if He is with me, and He is. His very name tells it. He is Immanuel.
|The front of the card Santa left me.|
|The back of the card Santa left me.|