Until the Christmas Itinerary her son planned when the whole family would be together, Clare only heard from Rick every leap year or so.
Once the rare long-distance call brought news from Rick, “Mom, we’re getting married. Sonia and I will let you know where the ceremony will be.”
Later, “We’re relocating to Texas. I’ll send you our new address.”
Just a scant twelve months later, Rick surprised his mom when he called to announce, “We’re moving to the East coast. I’ll let you know where we settle in.”
Then even before the next Christmas, he called with the news, “We bought a house.”
Once the Christmas Itinerary came to life, the phone never stopped ringing. It was 5:30. Even the birds weren’t even up yet. The receiver also jingled at 10 at night. And any time in between. Every other day, Rick left messages on the answering machine. He truly broke new records in communication.
It was the first time that the whole family would be together in five years. And wasn’t it the first Christmas in Rick and Sonia’s house? Yup.
“What do you think of the itinerary so far?” he queried anxiously. He fessed up that he had researched endlessly on the internet planning the activities.
“The day that I fly in and get to bed at 2:30 a.m., you have us trekking around on an eight hour-walking tour a scant six hours later.”
“You can sleep in the car on the way. I’ll pack you a pillow,” Rick promised.
He mused, “I sure hope my brother’s flight isn’t delayed with winter weather. He’s flying in Friday.”
“If he’s snowed in, he can’t help that,” Clare reminded her son.
“But we’re going bicycling. If he doesn’t get in on time, he’s throwing a bike wrench in the Itinerary. I don’t know when we’ll get to do it later with everything else going on!”
Clare ventured to ask, “Do we have any time to just hang out, play board games, and talk?”
“I see an open day Saturday, about four days after you get here. Talk all you want then!”
The time of the year that spans Black Friday through New Years’ is often packed tight with activities, parties, programs, shopping, giving, baking and doing. Though an itinerary may not be as rigid as Rick’s, we find it easy to lose track of the relationships when we’re in a hurry.
Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30. Two men of God–one, a priest– deliberately headed to the other side of the road when they came upon an injured man left for dead. Both walkers didn’t seem to have the time to stop and help him. Only their hated enemy did that–dressing the man’s wounds, taking him to town, and paying for his care and lodging. He was truly the neighbor who showed an example of love in action.
This story from Jesus himself paints the picture of giving of time and self. What better season to slow down and invest in relationships today? The Christmas Itinerary can wait.
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]