LeftOvers #1

Posted: December 27, 2007 in Of Spiritual Things
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(This is the first of a many part Blog and part of the message I am giving Dec. 30th at Pleasant Valley Church in Winona, MN and thoughts for a book I would love to write. If you want to check this blog often, click on the RSS feed link on the very bottom of this page, then this site will be put in your “feeds” drop down in your explorer bar or favorites. Hope you can figure it out.)

     Our ’98 Chevy Venture was bloated like a popcorn bag in a microwave with gifts, snow pants, coats, hats, mittens, boats, several changes of clothes, traveling food, Christmas food, snacks and goodies, toys, blankets, pillows, boxes of wrapped gifts and some how we managed to squeeze in our four boys and Kristine and I, as we headed out for Grampa’s house, several hours away through dangerous blizzard-like conditions and past multiple stranded motorists deep in I-90’s ditches.  The white nuckle drive ended after a few hundred, “Are we there Yets?” and a bag of corn chips.

   We were in Worthington, MN, Kristine’s home town, for Christmas with Kristine’s entire family; Grampa and Gramma, two brothers, a sister, their spouses and twelve nieces and nephews and one extended wife – that would be Jenna the wife of the oldest nephew, Ryan. With all of those kids, sixteen in total, we borrowed a church’s gym for our Christmas day celebration.  Lots of room to run and all without breaking anything in Grampa’s house. Lots of games. Lots of presents. Lots of food. Lots of Love. 

Lots of Leftovers.

     When it comes to American Christmas celebrations leftovers are expected, if not encouraged. After the Patriarchal Prayer the ladies set out the smorgasbord of celebratory victuals that attracted hungry revelers like bees to an open can of pop on a warm summer day. Some how by the end of the line my plate was over flowing with all the scrumptious Christmas fodder it could support. The aroma in my nostrils matched the taste on my tongue which caused me to eat way to the point of explosion. But, as with all Christmas traditions, I didn’t stop eating when I was full.  There were many leftovers. Leftovers that were screaming, “Eat me!” So I obliged. I didn’t want to make one of the sister-in-laws feel bad, so I made sure I ate a lot of everything.  Throughout the day the leftovers remained available and my stomach continued to swell.

     Food isn’t the only leftover at Christmas time.  Last year we bought lots of toys for our kids for Christmas, only to discover that they only played with one, and the others got destroyed or sold at the next summer’s garage sales. This year there’s no leftover toys, we only bought them one thing, which has turned out to be a great decision.  A recent article suspected that a billion dollars worth of gifts will be unwanted at Christmas and will be returned, sold on Ebay, or put under the bed to collect dust until it’s thrown away.

     Sadly most of those gifts are stacked on top of the already massive credit card crisis, or possibly it’s an epidemic. This year we were determined not to go into debt buying presents. We wanted some money to be leftover. To make this possible a budget and cash in hand was the best way.  I know we are being forced into using debit and CC cards now, but I cherish the days of receiving change from a purchase. Leftover money is always a good thing, and if a bit of discipline is coupled with it the piggy bank could pay for next year’s Christmas presents.

    I couldn’t talk about Christmas Leftovers without mentioning the greatest Leftover of Christmas. Love. I cherish the days leading up to the 25th when cheer is in the air. It seems that people give a bit more of themselves and are slightly more grace filled. It sounds so cliche-ish, but it’s true, we all treat each other a bit better throughout December. Then January rolls around and the Grinch comes back to town. I love the Christmas season because there are lights on trees and decorations all over the town. There’s lots of love to go around, like a glimpse of what it could be if only we could capture the leftover love and spread it around throughout the rest of the year. The truth is, there is plenty of leftover love, the problem is its just not used.

It’s not about having leftovers, it’s about using leftovers.

     Leftovers.  There is a lot of meaning in leftovers…something I will be exploring in the next few entries. I believe that God is the God of Leftovers.

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