This was by far the most imperfect Kelley Christmas I can recall.
I don’t think Rhonda fully understood she was marrying into a family deep in Christmas traditions until she experienced it herself after our marriage. There are food traditions, activity traditions, dress traditions (ask her about the Hawaiian Christmas or the “No Shirt” Christmas if you need some giggles). The Kelley Christmas traditions were an eye-opening experience to her as our married holidays unfolded. To her everlasting credit, Rhonda embraced them because she embraced me with her whole heart. Time changed some traditions and saw the addition of new traditions along the way. But nothing has ever been haphazard about a Kelley Christmas.
Then came Christmas 2022. Fortunately, there were no bad things or troubles this year. Our beloved family traditions just could not find their normal rhythm. Imagine working on a jigsaw puzzle that won’t come together in spite of all your efforts. Suddenly you discover that the puzzle pieces in front of you come from six different and unrelated puzzles. No amount of effort can ever make all the pieces come together. That in a nutshell was Christmas 2022 for us: filled with great family moments, some wonderful experiences, and a deep sense of joy, but the rough edges kept multiplying. For no apparent reason, the pace remained frantic. We couldn’t finish our usual decorations, pull together our typical menus, have our usual experiences and so on. We never exchanged so few Christmas phone calls and texts to friends and families. We could only do our traditional Christmas Eve Mexican dinner at noon instead of after the Christmas Eve service, and the tamale maker was off all day, leaving us without even a taste of tamales for the first time ever. It has not been a bad Christmas season. It included some truly wonderful moments and experiences. But as far as the Kelley Christmas experience I have known all my life, it was definitely on the odd side with so many puzzle pieces simply not fitting together as they always have.
Rhonda, who labored mightily creating a flawless Kelley Christmas through the years in the midst of whatever the particular circumstances were each year, was feeling a little down as the odd permutations multiplied, and then I finally realized this year’s Christmas message for me and for us. Each year as December unfolds I ask the Lord to teach me something fresh about the significance of the glorious coming of Christ. He always has, and He did it again. “Beloved,” I said to Rhonda, “the only reason why Jesus came into the world on that first Christmas night was because we were imperfect. All of us are imperfect. So imperfect we had to have a divine Savior who could save us from the consequences of our imperfections.” Each Christmas is and should be a joyous celebration that God recognizes our imperfections and in an unspeakable act of love became flesh in order to redeem us from them. We can relax and celebrate Jesus whatever life brings. WOW!
My love for Kelley Christmas traditions is undiminished. I freely admit this was a most imperfect Christmas for a Kelley. My conclusion:
2022 HAS BEEN THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!