Christmas Day started at 4am with the elephantine thuds of DD3 "tip-toeing" downstairs. This necessitated me getting up to haul her back to bed, as I had only finished wrapping the presents and gone to bed at midnight !
As a concession to her going back to her room (note - not back to bed!) I said she could open her stocking.
This was not a good move.
In her stocking was a Tamagotchi and a gameboy game of Stormbreaker. I know she played with both because I could hear them FOR HOURS. She wasn't noisy; it was just that the house was so quiet every noise was magnified a hundredfold.
I finally gave up and got up at 7am.
I was officially feeling like the Grinch. DH and DD4 got up - with prodding- at 8am to open presents.
I never really got into the Christmas spirit. I just felt flat, jaded, deflated, exhausted and cheesed off. I went through the motions, smiled, paid compliments and set up the Nativity icon and sang the Nativity hymn, but my heart wasn't truly in it, which distressed me no end. This feeling of spiritual malaise has plagued me since halfway through the Fast.
The children loved all their presents, and we headed off to my mum's for Christmas lunch and met up there with the older two daughters and their boyfriends(both of whom are absolute darlings, and I could not wish for my girls to have nicer boyfriends!)
My mum's elderly neighbour joined us for lunch and seemed to have a wonderful time. We were so glad to see him there as we would have hated to think of him being on his own on Christmas Day......
I ended up heading to bed at 8pm, feeling less tham stellar.
On Boxing Day there was a Liturgy at our priest's delightful garden chapel. Even going there, I dutifully kissed the icons and felt ..... flat. I had made my preparation prayers for Communion, but felt so bad that I had mentally decided I should not receive the Holy Gifts.
At this point I should mention that DD3's godmother and DD4's godmother were there, as well as a friend's little girl who was three years old. The children were incredibly well-behaved, and stood still throughout the Liturgy, joining in as much as they were able. My two made bee-lines for their beloved godmothers :-)
For our pre-communion hymn, we sang Adeste Fideles in honour of the Feast.
What finally broke the relentless and devastating stony hardness of my heart(and may God be richly praised for this) was hearing those three children sing their hearts out.
The adults present all made a point of falling silent as it came to each chorus of "O come let us adore Him...." so the only sound was of these three joyous and delightful innocents ages 3, 6 and 9, worshipping and praising God with all their hearts.
It made me cry, and that was the point when I felt that I should indeed approach the Chalice on this Feast, with great fear, trepidation and a childlike trust that God would accept me "just as I am", sinful and broken, lest I indeed fall prey to the ravening wolf of souls mentioned in the Communion prayers.
God was merciful to me and the joy of the Feast truly entered into my heart and soul. It was such a blessing to be able to go to this Liturgy, and it was only possible due to the loving kindness of my husband who willingly sacrificed his whole day to take me to Church because he knew how much it meant to me.
I am truly blessed.