And since when does one hang out with the ex-boyfriend's family to trim the tree? Since the 21st century. This millenium seems to be starting out on interesting sociological dynamics. Besides the fuzzy, shallow offerings Hollywood presents of mixed families getting together for the kids' sake, it's funny. I got a call from J. today inviting me over to decorate for Christmas. I love decorating for Christmas. When he threw in the famous chocochino, how can a girl resist? J. is ex-b's grown son. So over I came, and we got out the big tree stand I urged e-b to purchase last year, and we snipped the cord off the tree and dusted off ornaments and played Christmas music and we were all nice to each other. Nice but not wierd. Just nice. Hospitality comes in so many forms. Sometimes it means letting an immigrant family with a pregnant girl stay in your barn when they're traveling on tax business. Sometimes it means letting a five year old put a certain ornament on the tree. Sometimes hospitality is repaying the kindness that your host extends. Sometimes hospitality is recognizing that when you date someone for a couple of years, you don't become family. But you almost do. And when the kids still want you in their lives, that my friends, is hospitality. The dating is gone. The depth remains. It is more precious because it is abundantly clear now that no one is in it for anything. I haven't buddied up to the kids just because it's awkward that I'm dating their Dad. They aren't buddying up to me just because they're trying to gain leverage with him. But it's December, and I'm miles from my family, and my parents just got divorced, and I've spent the last several Christmases in chocochino world, so dang it, why not enjoy friendship? Hospitality. I felt more welcome this weekend than perhaps ever before.
Not in the presence of abundance, but in the pinch and pang of absence and lack. When grace disappears from one spot, it always pops up in another, just like those hammer games at Chuck E. Cheeses. When one relationship is lost, another emerges to gently administer the sacrament of gracious fellowship. When one portion crumbles, another flowers, and I am reminded of the diversity of friends and acquaintances who truly concern themselves with my well-being. Mine. What a small star I am in the universe. But they take on my world, and that is profound, and moving, and immense. And when a fellow human being takes on my world and gently melts it into their own, we form a constellation - no longer a lone star. My constellation may change shape and morph into different patterns, but I am glad this Christmas to remember that stars have being heralding hospitality, warmth and human care for much longer than I have been around. Did the Christmas star summon or reveal? It invited and displayed at the same time that Christ has shared Himself in ultimate hospitality, just as the familiar Nativity figurines offer hospitality to the cold, naked, shivering Messiah. My star is not alone. Christ sent one already to welcome me. The heavens rejoice because we have a Friend in God. Not a Buddy. But the Truest of all Virtuous Friends. A God that likes us, as a parent tousles the hair of a child in affection.