I love a clever turn of phrase, and Febreze has hit a home run with their nose-blind commercial. It makes perfect sense that what is familiar to us, something we’ve grown accustomed to, sticks out like a sore thumb; or, more appropriately, a stinky smell to others.
During the holidays several years ago, my child bride decided to go and see her family at Christmas. Going to your in-laws at Christmas isn’t unusual. Going on a cross-country, 15-hour drive on Christmas Day? Well, that’s a little different… My family always opens gifts on Christmas Eve, giving us all day on Christmas to enjoy just relaxing with our family and letting the kids play with their gifts. Deb, myself, Lauren, and LeAnne all packed up Christmas Eve and got to bed early to hit the road on our Christmas vacation.
You’re probably thinking, “Dale traveling on Christmas? You’ve got to be kidding!” Now, let me tell you what I was thinking: there will be no traffic, no roadwork, no nothin’–just me, the open road. and bing, bang, boom, I will be in Houston, Texas. A masterful strategy for a perfect road trip. But, of course, that is not what happened. You know why no one travels on Christmas? Everything is closed. No fast food, no restaurants—oh, wait! There is Waffle House! When I was a starving student—starving is such an overused word. When I was a poor student, I would go to Waffle House in Knoxville for a three-dollar breakfast. When I say breakfast, I mean BREAKFAST! I wouldn’t have to eat lunch. And who wants ramen noodles anyway? Walking into the Waffle House was good for 3000 calories just if you breathed. Enough about my infatuation with Waffle House and back to the story.
Five minutes on the road and my offspring started chirping like newborn chicks out of the shell. Not a problem; we will just pull off the interstate and—look out! Holy night, Batman! McDonald’s is closed. I thought McDonald’s was like Walmart: they never close. I don’t even know why they have locks on the doors! There you have it… on the road with starving “young-uns” and momma is not happy, daddy is not happy, and then I remembered!
I stopped my mind from going blind. You know that bubble that appears over a person’s head that allows you to read what they are thinking? Well, Debra can read mine! At the exact same time, we said, “Waffle House!” Mainly because there was one open right next to the “closed on Christmas” McDonald’s. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Waffle House, and every time we entered, everyone working at the Waffle House was adorned in elf hats and said, “Merry Christmas!” All those familiar smells, sounds, and menu items came back from the past. Shoot, the kids even liked sitting at the counter watching the cooks sling breakfast.
This place was packed! Truck drivers, wrecker drivers, folks who work when most of us don’t; they were all there! We ordered $12 worth of breakfast (3×4 is 12) and the process began. Five minutes later, there we were with our plates in front of us, and we were preparing to have cholesterol nirvana. Like many folks, we pray before we eat. We always take turns, and it was Lauren’s turn to say grace. I turned to Lauren, who was four at the time, and said, “Lauren, will you pray for us?” She bowed her head to offer grace. I waited, mom waited, and LeAnne waited; but, no prayer.
I peeped out of one eye to see Lauren looking around the Waffle House waiting on the normal peace of a momentary prayer; no peace, but lots of noise. My little Lauren mustered up all the volume that her small voice could muster and shouted, “I’M PRAYING HERE!” You could have heard a mouse (you know, the one that didn’t stir in the Christmas poem) and everyone and everything fell quiet. I looked around in wonderment at the burly truck drivers bowing their heads with their hats off at the request of a little girl. A loud request; but, a request none the less. Lauren offered her short prayer, and the noise resumed.
During this magnificent time of praise, worship, and pure wonderment, let’s not become blind to the fact that the miracle of the Christ child is the reason for the season. During your Christmas, here are some ideas that hopefully will make your Christmas season a little more “sense-able and season-able”:
- Making Christmas care packages for those in need in your area, complete with toiletries customized for women or men, and including a special Christmas gift “for those of us who travel a lot and save those little shampoo and conditioner bottles”
- Volunteering through Salvation Army as bell ringers “ for those who like to ring their own bell”
- Volunteering in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen “for those of us that can’t cook, but who can’t mess up serving”
- Packing a shoe box and sending it through Operation Christmas Child “for those of us that love shoes and have a lot of boxes”
- Participating in an Angel Tree Program “ for those of us that are blessed to have the opportunity to bless others”
- Visiting a local nursing home or care center with homemade gifts “ for those of us that have extra time on Christmas”
- Caroling with a local church “for those of us who can’t sing but are excellent pantomimes”
- Community service projects, like cleaning up trash in the park “for those of us who enjoy the park”
- Snow shoveling or de-icing sidewalks for those who can’t “ for those of us who need a work out after a Christmas feast”
- Pray as a family at meal times and bedtimes for people around the world to turn to Christ during this Christmas season “Lauren, it’s your time again.”
May your Christmas be a time of remembering, rejoicing, reconnecting, and recognizing that we all go blind to the awesome things God gives us every moment of our lives. Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year from my family: me, Debra, Lauren, Dalton, Kayleigh, Teagan, AJ, LeAnne, Keith, Bartleby, Sebastian, and Perry. And from my staff, Michelle and Nick.