This morning I ran out of coffee. Given the depths of my addiction, this was probably enough of a crisis on its own. But this is not just any coffee. It's my Caribou French Roast Coffee, my very favorite, which my family sends me for every holiday. Usually. I realize that I could order this coffee for myself online, but between my birthday and Christmas, it always seems to arrive at just the time that I need it. Usually.
But I realized something this morning as I shook the last of the beans into the coffee grinder: there is no coffee coming this year. I suppose I did this to myself, with my late and lax gift-giving, with my waiting until after Christmas to send presents back to Minnesota for my family. Once again, this year, my gifts will be shipped on the Monday after Christmas. But then, the rest of my family has other piles of presents waiting for them, from each other. I only get the one, from my parents. Usually. It's Christmas Eve. If there were a package coming this year for me, it would be here already.
The space under my tree is empty except for a few things waiting to be wrapped and shipped after I get through the Christmas church mania. And I know Christmas is not all about presents. Believe me, I know, it's not really about presents at all. One package isn't that big of a deal. But that one package told me that somewhere, someone was aware that I'm alone during the holiday. Someone was aware of me, of my existence, of the fact that I might need to know that even though I'm on my own for the holiday, I'm not entirely alone in the world.
It's so much pressure to put on one little holiday, but there it is. If no one is around to tell you that they care about you during this time of year, chances are, no one actually cares about you all that much. And maybe I did that to myself too, by moving across the country, by always being so quick to say good-bye, by not keeping up relationships as well as I should have and not being as intentional about caring for people as I could have. But that empty space under the tree still hurts.
So, now I'm going to pull myself together and go to church and do the job that took me so far from my family (although chances are I would have moved anyway) and from the once-upon-a-time when I didn't have to worry about these things, when I was just one more part of the big, long-established family hustle and bustle of Christmas. I will pull through three services and try to think of angels and shepherds and baby Jesus in a manger. I will try not to think of myself and the gaping wound ripped open by this stupid holiday. I will try to think of light and hope and the coming of God into the world. And I will pray that is enough to get me through the night.