The category-one hurricane winds left behind a path of utter destruction. Who knew Southern California would be visited by one hundred mile per hour winds? Earthquakes, yes. Fires, yes. Santa Ana winds, yes. But never winds of this magnitude.
Yet this is how we ushered in the month of December. Shortly after the winds began blowing, we lost our power. One week after the fact, some residents in the area are still without electricity. That night, we lost our majestic tree in our front yard, a tree that stood twice as tall as our house. It was the only tree on our property that we actually named. It fell inches away from our son's truck, and a large expense was spared. We also lost a portion of our roof and a section of our back fence, both ripped away by the hurricane force winds.
The mess was overwhelming. Debris was everywhere. Large heavy pots were blown onto their sides. Items from our garden simply vanished. Everything was covered with a thick layer of dust and dirt. Even the inside of our home wasn't spared. I began the daunting task of cleaning up. My husband shook his head in disbelief. The seventy swimming pools he takes care of were all filled with tree branches, leaves, patio furniture, potted plants, roofing shingles...you name it. It was beyond anything he has seen in forty years.
One week later, we both feel and move like we are decades older than our actual age. My husband has only begun to scratch the surface in his clean-up efforts at work. He is gone from sun-up to sun-down, coming home completely exhausted and very sore. The only thing I can do to lighten his load is to try to take care of things on the home front.
This was supposed to be a stress-free season for us. We agreed as a family to cut back on the spending and gifting, drawing names to make it more manageable. My husband had made the decision to cut back on his work load, accepting the fact that he just can't do what he used to ten...twenty...thirty years ago. We made a point not to fill up the calendar with activities so we could enjoy the season and each other's company.
Then the winds arrived. And the clean-up began. And two family members landed in the hospital. And my mom found herself in need of help.
Last night we decorated our tree. Actually, our daughter decorated the majority of the tree. I sat on the couch, too tired to engage in one of my favorite activities. But it was a delight to watch her, realizing that this time next year, she'd probably be married, thinking about a tree of her own.
Despite the winds, the mess, the work, and the exhaustion...one thing remains constant and unchangeable ~ the reason for this season. It's all about a young teenage girl...her faithful husband...and a baby boy, born in a stable, surrounded by animals, yet visited by kings. No windstorm, whether literal or built of adversity, can change that fact.
"This is Christmas: not the tinsel, not the giving and receiving, not even the carols. But the humble heart that receives anew the wondrous gift ~ the Christ."