Thank you all for your kind words. While the rational part of my brain knows that we certainly tried hard enough to get to Mass on Christmas to fulfill our holy day obligation, the emotional side had a hard time accepting that the weather kept us away. Like I said, "This IS Texas!" It just doesn't happen... except that, I guess it does.
So, taking the beautiful advice you all so lovingly offered, I spent some time contemplating the ways in which He came to us this Christmas....
First, by not being at Mass at 6 or 8, we were able to help my father navigate through the treacherous highways of the DFW area. Had he traveled the usual path, he would have ended up stuck on two separate sections of highway that were shut down in both directions. His 6 hour trip might have stretched into 8 easily. Did I mention that he has a heart problem?
The kind help of a sweet sister in Christ earlier in the week resulted in a bubbling hot pot of perfect gumbo on my stove which I quickly ladled up for my still shaking, starving father. He sucked it down without comment or complaint which was quite a compliment! You must understand that my father does a lot of cooking himself and usually peppers the meals I prepare for him with helpful advice on how to make it better next time. ; ) Not only was he grateful for the gumbo, but he thought it was so delicious, he announced he was going to have it for breakfast in the morning!
I already mentioned that the roads were so bad that we all decided it best that my dad and his wife stay with us instead of of trekking to the hotel. His guardian angel had already had enough of a workout! We offered them a comfortable bed and a glass of wine to calm their nerves. It was our own little Las Posadas. A simple gesture, but this way, my father got to enjoy his grandchildren's delight on Christmas morning for the first time ever. The excitement, the magic, the squeals of surprise! He saw it all... and smiled all the way to his eyes!
Lastly, when we were in the back of church with Shortcake, I glimpsed in her eyes some of my own fears and anxieties. One of the only consolations to spending hour after hour awake struggling with a panic attack or some other kind of anxiety is the idea that some day, maybe, what you learn from those wakeful hours can be used to help make someone else's struggle easier. So when I looked into those chocolate brown eyes, the perfect mirror of mine, and saw those familiar feelings of agitation and distress, I whispered a quiet "thank you". Thank you, Lord, for those hours of angst. Thank you, for the gift of that burden.
As a parent, it hurts to not understand what your child is going through. It can cause frustration, irritation, even contempt. Understanding is a gift and what better gift for a parent than to grasp their child's burden.
You can't always take those burdens away, but a sympathetic parent tends to focus less on being a pillar of strength and uses her efforts to create a soft, warm place to rest. Thank you, Lord, for all your gifts however imperfectly received.