11:56 PM Time to go to bed. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. 11:55 PM I just re-read the e-mail from Judith Roberts (see below) and liked it so much I thought I should share part of it:
EN1 John “Chris” Lindsey’s ship set to sea this morning from Iraq for the last time. The official notification said he’ll be stateside on Jan. 10, 2004. His wife will join him in Virginia on Jan. 11. Praise God in the highest. I’m so relieved I can’t stop weeping. Now this is the kind of Christmas surprise I’m talking about!!!
11:23 PM Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, every creature was stirring, including the mouse. As I write these words, three TVs are on—one in our bedroom, one in our living room (no one is watching it), and one the boys are watching downstairs. Marlene and I got back from the second Christmas Eve service a few minutes ago. The two services this year were quite different in one major respect. There were lots of children at 5 PM and not very many at 9 PM. We had 32 children in the nursery at 5 and 1 at 9. Both services drew large crowds—including a great many visitors—with the later service drawing more people. Lots of good music tonight—Andrew Irvin, Christina Irvin, Jennifer Matthews, the Boisse and Jahns families, Johann, Adele-Marie and Elena Buis, Sarah Follman, Jodi Rieger, guest organist Gladys Christensen, the sanctuary choir, Ben and Esther Mildenhall, the orchestra plus the grand piano returned to the sanctuary for the first time in a month. Wonderful dramatic reading by Mark and Lisa Goeke, and on a personal note, I enjoyed hearing Luke 2:1-20 read from the King James Version. Good to see many of our college students home for Christmas. David Tyler was home on leave from the Marine Corps. He said it is likely that he will be assigned to Kuwait or Iraq in February. Robert Schuler told me that his son Robert (also a Marine) has already been told he is going to Iraq in February. (Meanwhile I heard from Judith Roberts that her son, John Lindsey, left Iraq yesterday, heading for home.) Between the services tonight, our family celebrated a tradition that we’ve been following for 24 years. When I grew up, my mother always made oyster stew on Christmas Eve. In the first few years of our marriage, Marlene did the same thing. The year Josh was born, she started making seafood chowder instead. Tonight we had seafood chowder plus homemade cinnamon bread plus a few other dishes. The boys used to complain about the chowder, but now they seem to like it. Marlene told them tonight that it’s proof they’ve grown up. They laughed when she said that. We’ll open our presents tomorrow morning—another family tradition. For years Nick has been trying to get us to open one present on Christmas Eve. No dice. We’ve told them, “Get married, and then you can start your own traditions.” There was lots of banter back and forth. Adam Hill came by for a while, and I think Kari Jorgensen is downstairs talking to the boys at this moment. She flew in from Ft. Lauderdale earlier this evening.