I have been dreaming of this moment for weeks. As my mom clicks on the “Buy Tickets” button, joy and apprehension mingle in my heart. Is everything going to be okay? Will you be there on time?
This Christmas, my parents, sister and I are flying to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to visit our family. We were supposed to go last winter, which turned into last summer, which turned into this Christmas (for reasons obvious to all!). And finally, the tickets are bought! I jump with excitement as I imagine my cousins, my sister and I eating chocolate chip popcorn (a classic) as our Opa tells us a story from his childhood. I envision our family meal, a union of family and food – I can smell my Opa’s famous roast, and I hope my aunt will bake one of her excellent dessert recipes. I will see my cousin’s wife pregnant, my other cousin’s new boyfriend, and get a bear hug from my uncle. Oh, I’m so excited to travel!
Most of all, I can feel the freezing Manitoban wind take me back as I step out of the car in the church parking lot. It will be a silent night, a holy night. The moon will already be making the snow glisten. I will find my place in a pew, close my eyes, and sing along with the small choir, as we join thousands of Christians around the world gathered to celebrate Christmas: to celebrate the birth of Jesus. To celebrate that God loved us enough to take a human form, live among us, and eventually make way for us to be saved and be reunited with him. And I will look at my ageing Opa and Oma standing beside me, as I have in the past, and see in their soft smiles and wrinkles the joy of people who have known the faithfulness of God.
I look at the computer. I cannot help but think, “Is everything going to be okay? Will we be there on time?” This year, my Opa lost both his siblings. The fragility of life makes me feel vulnerable. I have wanted to see my grandparents for nearly two years, our tickets are finally bought, and yet, two weeks before the departure… I fear we will be too late. I fear they might fall, get sick, be hospitalized. But I am reminded of the angels who told the shepherds on a night long ago, “Peace be with you.” Not because the shepherds would now be able to control the future, but because they could trust God – and I am reminded to do the same. Christmas is a time of hope. Soon, my family and I will be at my Oma’s and Opa’s home for Christmas – and hopefully, not only in my dreams.
by Katya Jutras