Christmas Eve, Wednesday, December 24, 2008

“Someone you care about seeks reconciliation.” Behold the introspective depth of the Chinese fortune cookie. I don’t believe I ever keep any sort of ongoing quarrels with anyone I care about. I don’t believe. Do I? Perhaps I’m silly, but my thoughts did turn to the passage in Matthew—if you are offering your gift to God and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift. First be reconciled to your brother and then worship. I spent the rest of the afternoon lost in a desperate attempt to recall anything I might have done to offend anyone. My mind seemed a blank slate, though I know I am often unkind, judgmental and disrespectful. Even more often in thought than word.

I was busily working in the kitchen when Grandma made some comment about my love of cooking. I paused with the salt shaker half tipped before I dropped a bomb that would rattle her timbers. “I don’t like cooking.” Her eyebrows shot up with the speed of bottle rockets. “What do you mean you don’t like cooking?” she demanded. I fumbled for words. “I don’t really like to cook.” Obviously I didn’t really come up with any. “Well,” her voice came out in a huff, “for someone who doesn’t like to cook, you certainly do a lot of it.” I shrugged. “Well, yeah. I have to. I mean, cooking has to be done, so I do it. But I don’t particularly like it. That’s why I never use recipes. I just go for simple and quick.” She shook her head. “All this time I thought you really enjoyed cooking. What do you like to do?” “Actually,” I grinned from ear to ear, feeling foolish. “I really like to clean.” Again her eyebrows nearly bounced off her hairline. “You like to clean? I never heard of such a thing! I just do it because it has to be done.” How is it that I so successfully get everything almost entirely backwards?

After supper we worked a puzzle, drank fizzing apple cider, ate chocolates and opened gifts. Mine from Grandma was a suspiciously hard, flat shape—with a defined binding. With a couple of quick rips came my Christmas revelation: she’d given me a cookbook. Perhaps I should seek reconciliation with Grandma? She just chuckled as I held it up to thank her. “Well,” she said. “You may not like cooking, but at least I had something to wrap up. If I gave you only a check, you’d never spend it and I wouldn’t have the fun of watching you open something.” I’m sure it must have been entertaining watching my face as I unwrapped a cookbook, knowing the whole time that I’d just made the declaration that, contrary to popular opinion, I don’t like cooking.

Sometimes I say really stupid things.

We read the familiar “Christmas Story” and rattled off to our own rooms.

I wish I could enjoy cooking. It just seems like an exorbitantly necessary waste of time, for the most part, and as quickly as it’s done it’s gone with nothing to show for it. I know that was contradictory. So are my feelings toward cooking. I know that the Lord has called me to cook, as a service to my family, and I struggle to keep my mind on the task at hand. Cooking’s not so bad as long as I don’t have to think about it. The thought of making menus makes me break out in goosebumps. Talking about recipes bores me. I take no pride in meal preparation. I should. I should embrace every aspect of making a home as something of eternal value. Jesus never considered Himself beyond the call of feeding multitudes. Is a servant greater than her Master?

Lord, revive my heart, renew my mind
To trust in Thee, and trusting find
That joy in doing what is right—
A sacrifice for Thy delight.

Teach my hand my faith to prove
By taking captive to Thy love
The scornful thoughts that, bitter, lurk
And hate to do Thy daily work.

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