Stark silence forced Sara’s concentration into recession. How could anyone stay focused with such stillness? She stole a peek at the clock and sighed, realizing only twenty minutes had passed since the children were sent running to the school bus through ankle-deep snow.
Glancing back to a blank screen in front of her, she knew her desire to place blame for her wondering mind on peace and quiet was silly. At breakfast, with three little mouths chattering more than chewing, she had longed for serenity. She was procrastinating.
Rebelliously, Sara delayed the inevitable task before her by typing out her household chore list with a heading of “Things to be done on this cold day in Michigan, Thursday, November 13, 2008.” After quickly listing at least four loads of laundry to be sorted, carpets to be vacuumed, and a messy kitchen to be cleaned, she let out a long, exaggerated sigh. With great resistance, she typed the dreaded task at the bottom of today’s goals. “Write something for our Christmas card greeting.”
Having those words glaring at her from the screen, along with continual cruel silence, was more than Sara could confront. She clicked away from the nagging screen and hurried to the laundry room. After all, the laundry wouldn‘t sort itself.
Nearly an hour later, with dishwater up to Sara’s elbows, the phone rang. After rushing to grab a dishtowel and trying not to soak the floor, she reached for the receiver on the forth jingle. Jan’s familiar “Hey Sis,” brought instant longing for a return to cruel quiet.
“Hello Jan.” Sara knew she would regret asking, “What are you up to today?”
Jan rushed into specific details of the wonderful Christmas cards she had created this year and how she was stuffing the envelopes that very moment. “I can’t wait for you to see them, Sis. I sure wish we could see ya’ll this year. Guess that’s what you get for marrying Yankee-Doodle Tim."
Sara hoped her reply would not sound as snappy and annoyed as she felt. “All ya’ll Georgia peaches will do just fine without me, Jan. Besides, Mamma and Daddy are flying up to see us the day after Thanksgiving and staying long enough to see the kids in our Christmas program. My husband, the youth pastor, has difficulty getting off work this time of year, you know.”
A brief moment of silent tension seemed eternal before Jan‘s heartbroken response. “Oh Sara, I miss you so much. I’m glad Mamma and Daddy are able to go see ya’ll. I just wish I could see you too. You do at least have a card with your family’s picture ready to send me, don’t you?”
Guilt clouded Sara’s vision. “It’s on my to-do list,” her voice wavered. “We took a really nice digital photo and I bought Christmas cardstock to print on. I just can’t think of a message for the inside.” She tried to catch her next thoughts, but they slipped from her tongue. “I‘m so jealous of you, Jan. My ideas aren’t nearly as cute and crafty as yours.”
A few hours later, with Jan‘s loving encouragement, the dreaded task was complete. Sara slid beside Tim at the kitchen table. While he quickly inhaled his lunch, she read her masterpiece aloud:
“Merry Christmas to loved ones so dear.
Hope you’ve all had a glorious year.
Our family is doing just fine.
No major news to give you this time.
It’s hard to be so far away.
Wish we could be there on Christmas day.
Tim will be preaching on Christmas Eve night,
Or else we would hop a flight.
This year, this card will have to do.
With it we send our love to you.
Maybe ya’ll won’t find my poem too cheesy.
Competing with Jan still isn’t easy!”
Tim chuckled, enveloping Sara in a warm embrace as he questioned, “Are you sure that last part is necessary?”
“I think it‘s cute,” Sara smiled and enjoyed their tranquil moment before quietly adding, “my Yankee-Doodle Dandy.”
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