It feels a little strange. Now, 2020 has been the strangest year ever so everything feels strange. But for some reason, as I sit here on December 6th and I look at my to-do list and my calendar, it is really strange. It is empty. Sure, there is a worship here and a confirmation class to tape there and some devotions to record and upload. But it isn’t what it normally would be. In normal times, this week, December 6th-12th, is the busiest week of my year. Not Holy Week. This week. Because normally this is lefse week. Normally this is Spirit of Christmas week. But nothing is normal. Not this year.
In a normal year, during this week I would average twelve hour days for every day this week, with Friday and Saturday being 14-16 hours. I’m peeling and ricing potatoes and then serving as a runner, taking lefse from griddle to table. Last year, on Thursday of lefse week, I put on 11 miles of walking and I never left the building. I’m moving tables and setting up for Silent Auction and then spending all day Friday putting together packages, typing up bid sheets, and figuring out how we are going to fit in all the last second items that come in. I’m organizing the soup lunch and calling my colleagues in ministry about the people in their church who will be in the Live Nativity. I’m barely home throughout the week and I think the dog forgets who I am. Every night I go to sleep smelling like potatoes and dream of Silent Auction items. It is a crazy, busy, insane week. Like I said, the busiest week of the year. But it is also my favorite work week of the year.
I won’t miss all the hours that I put in and the feeling of overwhelming exhaustion that encompasses it. However, I’m already really missing all the people who I get the pleasure to work beside, who put in just as much work as I do or more. I’ll miss the leadership of Peggy Danovsky and Deb Holmlund as they lead the lefse crew and see their dedication and love of passing on this new tradition, they way they get new people right into it and take what seems to be chaos into a ballet of lefse production. I’ll miss Paul Davnosky asking me AGAIN to play “Snoopy’s Christmas” and all the other song requests. I’ll miss playing around with Wendell Andrews and watching him screw up a piece of lefse on purpose so he can eat it. I’ll miss when a Mom or Grandma brings in a grandkid to give them a taste of this time honored tradition. I’ll miss watching Howard Edlin examine each piece like a diamond and carrying lefse from Marlys’ and Marlene’s and Vicki’s and Carla’s and Sandy’s griddles. I’ll miss seeing the guys making dough balls and seeing everyone sitting around the table having a coffee break. I’ll miss the counting down of the bins in the fridge and the counting of packages. I’ll miss the stories, the laughter, the jokes (even those at my expense), and the feeling of teamwork, camaraderie, and togetherness that comes with this week. I’ll miss laughing with our high school kids who are helping with the bid sheets and the fun of hanging out in the kitchen on Saturday with our awesome youth and the dedication of the parents who take care of everything when I leave for Live Nativity. I’ll miss seeing the community come out to see the birth of Christ acted out. I’ll miss seeing the bake sale tables dwindle down until there is none left. I’ll miss all of it.
Life is not normal right now and it won’t be for awhile. And though I will miss everything I just listed, it doesn’t mean I’m sad. During lefse week, I often saw the best of our congregation and our community. I saw Jesus at work. I’m not sad because not only do I have the memories of previous years, but I know that we will do it all again next year. I’m not sad because I still see Jesus at work. Jesus is just working in a different way then in years past. I see it in the way people are checking in on each other, the comments during the worship services online, the way people wave to each other through their cars. I see it in the emails and calls I get. I see it in the way we lift up each other. I will see Jesus at work when I’m actually home for dinner this week and get time with dog and a chance to go for a walk with Amy because I’m not so tired I can barely stand.
Life is not normal right now. But the love of Christ is still there. Hope is still there. Jesus is still at work. There is still a Spirit of Christmas. It just looks different this year. And when I turn on my Christmas music and hear “Snoopy’s Christmas,” I will still think of Paul, of Deb and Peggy, of our kids, of all of it. And I won’t be sad. I’ll be glad for the memories, the people, the stories, the time, and the privilege. And I’ll see Jesus in my smile, memories, and heart. I hope that you will too.