And so it begins. Christmas this year will be little different, for several reasons.
Our daughter-in-college has her own apartment now, which means she can stay put in Ellensburg for most of December and travel to Port Orchard when her schedule allows. (Pre-apartment, she was always booted out of the dorm on the last day of Finals Week.) Our son-no-longer-in-college has a commitment to an internship and a part-time job so he, too, will be arriving home closer to Christmas Eve.
This will be our second year participating in Advent Conspiracy, a call to Christians to get back to what we're supposed to be doing. So, we're asking family members to sponsor a goat or contribute to a well or some other worthy thing, rather than buying us a gift. We're keeping our Christmas Morning Stocking tradition, though, because it's still lovely to open a surprise. We've asked everyone to be "creative" - they can define that however they like!
We're also continuing to focus on Sunday Lunch, a free meal offered every Sunday at the Solid Rock Cafe. It's a place for people to come and have a nice informal dinner in a restaurant, people whose finances are thin or nonexistent. The meal started out last August as a hearty sack lunch; one church let us use their kitchen to prep the lunch and another offered their parking lot to hand them out. We were locked out of the kitchen one Sunday and had to put sandwiches together in the wind-blown parking lot. And one person was assigned swatting duty when a group of ravenous hornets descended (they wanted our sandwich meat.) It was a bit more adventurous than we had planned, but all was well in the end.
I'm digressing, as usual. Because of Sunday Lunch, I am more aware than ever of the people in our community who are living in their vehicles or tents, of families whose budgets are so strapped that a jar of mayonnaise is a luxury, of teens and children who are often left on their own as the adults in their lives struggle with many, many challenges. Because of Solid Rock Cafe's invitation to us to partner with them, people can come in out of the cold, enjoy a hot meal, listen to live music, and feel normal for an hour and a half. We'll deliver meals to those who dare not use the gas they have to travel to the cafe; they budget every precious drop of gasoline for heat. People were also significantly affected by Kitsap Transit's decision to discontinue service on Sundays, so we're open to giving people a ride in if they need one.
The cafe was purchased by The Coffee Oasis, a coffeehouse/deli in Bremerton that provides a safe place for teens to hang out, especially the homeless ones. The Coffee O staff plan to make the Solid Rock Cafe the same kind of refuge for South Kitsap teens, with the blessing of the Solid Rock's landlord (Debbie Macomber.) It is a tremendous honor to be partnering with these folk.
Someone sent a link to a wonderful Youtube video recently, footage of a college group singing The Twelve Days of Christmas. If you decide to watch, be sure to turn the sound up. You don't want to miss a word.
Overheard on Twitter: According to @mchristi, having a Kindle and buying real books makes you "bitextual".
Next time: hard to predict. Stay tuned.