The Thrill of Hope

Brooke’s family has this crazy tradition that has now infected our own kids as well.

Christmas morning at our house begins at 5:00am. Always has. Always will.

I remember my first Christmas with my new in-laws as a newlywed, thinking WTF is happening here.

Why are we up so early?

I get the desire to open presents when it’s still dark but dang 5am is early.

I tease about it, but it’s a tradition I’ve grown to love. Especially seeing how excited our kids get each 25th of December at 5am.

Tomorrow morning will be our 15th Christmas together. 14th with kids.

The first 7-8 of them with kids entailed us hauling big toys out of the attic or basement on Christmas Eve once the cookies were out and the kids were asleep.

We’d put together things that had a million parts but made a big impact on Christmas morning. It would typically require a bottle of wine for us to not end up pissed at each other during these late-night projects.

Nowadays though, the gifts are different. Our crew is more into air pods and Xbox, leggings and hoodies.

We don’t have babies and toddlers anymore.

And as our kids have grown up, they’ve been with us every twist and turn each year brings.

Two Christmases ago, we were on the ropes. We didn’t know which way was up. We didn’t know which way we were headed.

Christmas was still magical for the kids that year, but for us, the magic was that we made it through.

I’d never have imagined my own marriage would be in for a dogfight. Never thought I’d be in a place in my life where my core beliefs and foundations got flipped upside down, blindfolded and shaken profusely.

Maybe it happens to everyone at some point on the way to old age. Or maybe for me it was just especially painful.

I’m not sure, but I know that the disorientation and loss of familiarity was frightening.

I mean, Christmas is supposed to be the time of sugarplums, dollhouses, and met expectations.

But it seemed all I could deliver was the guts to show up and tell Brooke and the kids I loved them.

The rest was a blur.

I think I believed this in my head my whole life, but believing it by experience and in my heart is much different. Much more powerful. Much deeper.

I always knew that pain had a purpose. I knew it produced character.

But the absence of pain and the avoidance of it felt much better frankly.

So when it became unavoidable, when it became a daily reality I couldn’t run from, I had to sit in it.

And face it.

Christmas this year feels less sugarplum-ish and more sobering. Healthier and less flippant. Heavier but with more substance.

I’ve felt more weariness than happiness the past couple years, mostly a result of my own doing.

But through the pain, comes hope.

Isn’t that the meaning of Christmas?

A weary world that rejoices.

Because of the thrill of Hope.

Hope isn’t so hopeful when you don’t feel like you need it. But when you’re weary and in need of something to cling to, it’s a thrill.

Merry Christmas.

May you rest in the thrill of Hope. Even while you’re weary.

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