Have you ever been on a car trip, taken a wrong turn and ended up in the part of town where graffiti covers every surface and the trash has not been collected in three weeks because the garbage trucks are afraid to go there? Well, somewhere between point A (wrestling power cords, risking electrocution and falling off tall ladders so I could put up outdoor Christmas lights) and point B (setting up the Christmas village), Christmas took a wrong turn for me. First, whose idea was it to plant rosebushes next to the foundation of the house; and, second, what kind of insane person buys breakable houses, lots of miniature trees and fake snow so she can mimic an Victorian English village with skaters gliding on a frozen pond? (Answer to both questions: me.)
After yelling at my husband because he would not let me put up “cool white” lights in one juniper bush when we had “warm white” twinkle lights in the rest of the bushes, I realized it was time for a sit down. My husband first called my verbal assault “insane” and then, realizing his almost dire mistake, apologized, backing it down to merely “unbalanced.” (If you are thinking of Christmas Vacation at this moment, it is a pretty accurate comparison.)
So, where did Christmas go wrong? It all started in a peaceful village, cows lowing in the stall, starlight overhead, and stately wise men bringing expensive gifts from Tiffany’s, right? Well, probably not. First of all, a pregnant young woman traveling on a donkey was not recommended by any doctor. Finding out after your arrival that Expedia had bungled your reservations and you would be lodged in a barn (cave, whatever) was not how you wanted your family reunion to begin. Have you ever spent time on a dairy farm? Febreze air freshener might be able to cover up the smell of old pizza boxes under the sofa, but it couldn’t touch that stink. Having to flee your home because a deranged king wants to kill your baby must have been terrifying.
Christmas on earth never has been right because life on earth hasn’t been right ever since Eve and Adam took the bite of the big apple. I have to keep reminding myself that the peace on earth at Christmas is what happens inside of us. It is not external. Twinkle lights and Christmas trees are only good to the extent that they reflect the peace and assurance I have inside of knowing I am right with God. Nothing else matters.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. [John 1:4-5]
Cook Family News
Greg: He gets to go first this year, mostly as an apology for my screaming fit over the twinkle lights. Greg has signed up to be a Rubio delegate. Based on past experiences, this unfortunately means Rubio will suffer an ignominious defeat in the primary. (Just kidding—we are sure Greg’s luck with picking candidates is bound to change.) Greg is ramping up his physical stamina to go to Philmont this June with our son, Will, and his Scout troop. Hiking for 10 days in the desert at high altitude—no problem. Greg is still busy fighting injustice, faulty air conditioners and various other legal problems for his clients.
Will: The last to leave the nest is anticipating taking the test for his learner’s permit right after midterm exams are over. He survived his first marching band season, learning to play tenor sax and march without getting off-step, and that makes this band mama proud. He struggles with the usual freshman foibles (I left my shoes in the band room and someone took them. Mooooom, have you seen my homework? Mom, why do you have to look at my Twitter account?) but we are sure this too shall pass. Will has surpassed me in height, so I am now officially the shortest person in the family.
Mary Catherine: Our daughter is enjoying her sophomore year at Vanderbilt. She finds the coursework challenging and stimulating (exactly what she wanted from a school) and the opportunities for internships and study abroad to be tempting. She is making plans to go to D.C.–one of Terror Watch’s top three U.S. cities–this summer for a Capitol Hill internship, followed by a semester abroad at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (no need to comment on where this city falls in the most-likely-to-experience-a-terrorist-attack category). I would tell her to keep a low profile, but I don’t think that would do any good. She is majoring in Political Science, with a minor in French and corporate organization.
Geoffrey: Our oldest has flown the coop. Geoffrey graduated in May with a Computer Science degree from the University of Alabama and has taken a job in Reston, VA, as a software developer. He is learning the joys of paying bills and taxes with his own money. Since D.C. was where Greg and I got our start in life, we are sure he will enjoy being in the area. Greg and I are turning Geoffrey’s room into a spa/office. Geoffrey has taken the bold step of growing a full beard. He now looks just like every other software developer in northern Virginia.
Kimberly: I tutor Will in Honors Geometry (adding this subject to my list of Finite Automata/Machine Theory and Programming Languages), serve as Vulcan District Commissioner for three Scouting units, mentor 2nd grade students in Discovery Bible club, teach 9th grade Sunday School and serve on the board of Brother Bryan Mission. I also spend a fair amount of time (too much time, Greg says) administering a Facebook community page. In my spare time, I enjoy quilting, writing and making jewelry.