Tea on Christmas Morning
Mary woke at five a.m., just as she did almost every day of the year. Bill was still fast asleep, so she reached for the worn burgundy leather Bible on her nightstand and quietly headed up the hall and into the den.
With her new red velvet ballet slippers warming her cold feet, she went to the kitchen and filled the electric teakettle with fresh water. It was a tradition of hers, beginning Christmas Day with a cup of tea and God.
For some thirty years, she’d been adding pieces to the same Christmas pattern she had started collecting as a young bride. The warm ivory tones and the cheerful Christmas tree design always brought a smile to her face. After steeping a cup of her favorite peppermint-flavored black tea, she headed to the sofa, spread a fluffy green Christmas throw over her lap, and opened her Bible to the second chapter of Luke. She read the familiar words as she sipped her tea.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Syria. Taxes. Fear. And courage. The topics were just as relevant two thousand years later, Mary thought. But she pushed all the recent news headlines out of her mind and tried, as she often did at Christmastime, to focus her wayward thoughts on the life-changing gift of the Christ child.
Earlier that week, she’d reread a favorite piece by a favorite author, Max Lucado, in which he’d pondered “Twenty-five Questions for Mary.” He meant the other Mary, of course, but she always chose to imagine Max had intended the questions for her too.
Her favorite was the one that read: “Did you ever think, That’s God eating my soup?” So practical, yet so thought-provoking. And like Max, Mary wondered if Mother-of-Jesus Mary thought about the food she was serving to the son who was also her savior.
Mary ran her hand along the well-marked Bible passage and read again the words she so delighted in: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
And then she whispered, Thank you, Lord.
Snuggling beneath her green throw, Mary took a sip of tea and stared at the amber brew. She knew she had a full day ahead. In a few minutes, she would put the ham in the oven to bake. Then, she’d throw a few things in the crockpot to have appetizers ready when the family showed up at lunchtime. Her daughters and daughter-in-law would help with the casseroles and vegetables, and then they would enjoy opening presents together before enjoying their traditional Christmas dinner.
After their meal, in another family tradition, Bill would pull out his old black leather Bible and share the Christmas story with the family members gathered around the table. Mary thought about how even the children liked to hear that amazing story each year, especially when Bill read it in what one of their grandsons called “his Bible voice.”
Finishing her peppermint tea, Mary let her eyes scroll again through the passage in Luke. How fortunate she was to live in a day when her Messiah had already come, had already offered her the magnificent gift of eternal life.
She knew that later that day, she was likely to open gifts that brought her much pleasure. A new bathrobe, perhaps, or a teacup or two for her collection. The grandchildren might give her a new photo book for the year—always a favorite gift—and Bill might surprise her with that new electric tea kettle she’d been hinting she would like.
And however her Christmas Day ended, she knew nothing would top the fact that it began, just as always, with good tidings of great joy.