The snow is swirling across the front of the house forming crests and sweeping from the roof in gusts while we sit in front of the fire reflecting on the days of Christmas 2013. All the guests have come, stayed, eaten, slept, eaten, and left. They arrived bearing lovely gifts, assorted food items, and Christmas crackers to decorate the table but the best gift they each brought was themselves. Dogs, in the plural, raced through the snow for hours on end bringing their romp into the house to make sure the party was exciting enough. And for a brief window of time Christmas chaos, in a good way, reigned on the swake.
The definition of chaos theory could apply to the combination of families and Christmas. Families are "highly complex systems whose behavior is highly sensitive to slight changes in conditions, so that small alterations can give rise to strikingly great consequences". (Chaos Theory) Mix up that highly complex system with the expectations of Christmas and there is every opportunity for chaos to ensue, good or bad, so one always hopes for the good kind of chaos.
We had good chaos and a few adventures thrown in, like a ham that wasn't cooking fast enough for my liking and a ride in Big Red for a special nephew. Eventually the blonde cook figured out that the ham wasn't cooking because the oven temperature had been turned off inadvertently. Phew, close call with bad chaos. We had four generations in the house, the eldest and the youngest were catnapping but not at the same time. There was more than enough food and the water supply didn't run out, lucky for Greg. Another close call with bad chaos.
Fortunately good chaos won out and the first ever Christmas dinner by the swake worked out just fine. The swake has a magical quality, guests seem to shed their cares with every step they take into the house. We have witnessed this phenomena many times, even as the house was being built, and we saw it again this Christmas. When people cross the threshold they are pulled by some force that is innate to the wall of windows along the front of the house. There they stand, looking out across the swake in silence until finally they find their voice and inevitably the words that escape are "it is beautiful". Sometimes if they come bearing lots of anxiety, it takes a little while for the swake to work its magic but inevitably it happens. You can almost feel the anxiety slipping out the door and a peacefulness replacing it.
It's not the beauty of the house, it's the beauty of the swake that creates that small alteration to the spirit, that slight change in perception with strikingly great consequences. At least that's how I feel about it, and I get that feeling every time I enter the driveway. God has created a remarkable spot and we are privileged to be living on it. Even as I careened around getting ready for Christmas failing to hear Greg's admonitions that it didn't have to be perfect, it somehow seemed like it would all be okay.
It was okay, in fact it was more than okay. We all enjoyed a little chaos with dogs underfoot and His Royal Highness JMH present for his first Christmas. We were able to give our guests a precious opportunity to be together. My greatest present was everyone's presence. For a short span of time we all left our cares along the driveway and celebrated God's blessings in our lives. That's the kind of Christmas chaos I want every year.