And we started unloading the car with its sleeping children, and immediately, surprisingly, I felt really really good about myself as a woman.
Not because my hair looked great after 12 hours of travel and definitely not because our five carry-ons (the airlines ask for this chaos I tell you) were neatly-folded after the two weeks of rotating between houses for Christmas. Instead, I felt really good about my togetherness as the manager of the home because when we walked into our house that night, we found it clean, clean, clean.
It was “bring on your white gloves” clean.
So we are unloading suitcases, and Matt and I were congratulating ourselves on how diligent we must have been to pack a family of five the day before Christmas Eve and still have the time to leave the house sparkling– even the inside of the microwave.
But it was the kids’ beds that gave it away. They were neatly tucked in and their stuffed animals were arranged artfully on their pillows. Sign One.
And then I noticed that their books were organized on the shelves, instead of crammed in. Sign Two.
And then, I saw that my son’s candy was arranged on his dresser on purpose, not accident. Sign Three.
And when we opened the fridge, there was pizza and milk and orange juice. And on the counter in front of the coffee pot? A fresh bag of coffee- “Friends” blend, fair trade, supporting women. Four.
And then we glanced outside in our backyard- the same backyard where we had thrown our Walmart Christmas tree with the lights still on it, to be dealt with later.
And that bush-tree that had caused such trouble? That tree that made us vow to never buy a real one again? It was gone from the yard. And there were strings of Christmas lights neatly sitting on a patio table.
And all the sudden, it was so very good to be home.
Because we have friends that are in our story close enough to know what day our plane was landing. We have people in our lives who give up a Saturday to spray down our microwave and stock our fridge and tuck in our kids sheets so they think they are at a schwanky hotel.
And in spite of the difficulty of living away from our families, we are tasting a community that hauls off a dead Christmas tree, right along with our cynicism.
What’s the best illustration of community you’ve tasted in your lifetime? What are your three favorite words to describe it?