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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

posted Dec 22, 2009, 6:55 AM by Dan Dunbar   [ updated Jan 29, 2010, 4:24 AM ]
I am sitting here in my office at school with Pandora Radio streaming The Carol of the Bells through my computer speakers. Mr. Colby has arrived to do some work in the peace and quiet of his student-less classroom and Mr. Schunck has dropped in to check that he has not left on Christmas lights and computers in his lab downstairs. Mrs. Lange is down the hallway from me working away on school stuff, and I am counting the hours and minutes until my flight leaves the tarmac at BWI airport and whisks me away to Maine to spend Christmas with my family.

I called the WBAL and WRBS radio stations to ask them to announce that GGCA would be closed today. The WRBS, I mean, SHINE FM deejay asked me when our Christmas break begins and when I told him that it was to begin tomorrow, he quipped, "So, it really began last Friday," and I smiled and answered, "Yes." I was not expecting to be closed these last two days of school before the break. The weather reports at this time last week were saying that the chance of snow was only 30 percent, so I had serious doubts and did not get my hopes up one iota. It wasn't until last Friday morning when the forecasters were saying that the chance of snow was 100 percent and that snowfall accumulations would be at least 6 inches that I began planning for a snowy Saturday. When I left school Friday afternoon, the snowfall totals had risen to at least a foot of snow, and the snowstorm madness seized the populace and drove them to pillage the stores for enough bread, milk, and toilet paper to survive a potential Ice Age. It was a long drive home, because everyone was rushing to get to their homes and hunker down to wait for the first flakes to flutter down.

Saturday I awoke to see a beautiful pristine blanket of white covering the yard and my car. I was content to read a book, bake brown sugar cookies, and make some goodies dipped in white and dark chocolate which I intended to bring to school on Monday to feed to my staff. I watched syrupy feel-good Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel after I came in from making a first attempt to shovel my walk and uncover my car. I knew from the GGWO website that all three services were still  a go for the next day, and I did not want to have to wake up before the sun to shovel out my car so I could get to the 8:30 service.

Sunday morning came and I discovered that all the snow I had shoveled away had been replaced, so I went out and managed to get my car out of the snowbank and into the two ruts running down the center of my little lane, pointed in the direction of the church. When I arrived at the campus, the lot was plowed, but there were very few cars and I knew then that we were probably going to have more people in church via the webcast than in person. Ah, well... I decided that I would be available to do whatever needed  to be done to help pull off the morning services. It turned out that besides singing with the worship team, I also sang with the team for the offering and then led the closing song, something I had never done before.

In keeping with the spirit of availability, I returned to the church at 2:30 and rehearsed for the Christmas drama that I had been asked that morning to be part of. I ended up playing Joseph in a little tableau, just like my nephew Colby did in the GGCA Christmas program! I enjoyed the opportunity to act again. I ended up bringing nearly all of my Christmas baking to the church cookie party after the evening service, since it was likely school would be cancelled Monday and possibly Tuesday too. Mrs. Lange brought me some of her sticky toffee pudding she had made for the GGCA staff Christmas party that was supposed to be Saturday night. I am having it today for my after lunch dessert.

So, here I am back in school for a few more hours. I am truly looking forward to seeing my niece and six nephews, my two brothers, my sister, their spouses, my mom and dad, and my two living grandparents who are in their nineties. I miss my Grammy Dunbar at this time of year, because she always made Christmas magical for us when we were little tykes. With her snow white hair, she could have been Mrs. Santa Claus as far as we were concerned. She always slept over at our house on Christmas Eve and was one of the first ones awake Christmas morning. She was famous for receiving a gift and saying things like, "What? Not another gift for me. I told you not to waste your money!" She was one of the most giving people I have ever known and I look forward to seeing her in heaven again someday.

I will arrive in Maine tonight sometime after 10:30 pm and I expect that there will be a Tupperware box of frosted sugar cookies cut into bells, trees, stars, and Santas sitting out on the kitchen counter when I arrive, and I will eat at least two before going to bed. Tomorrow I will visit my sister and try to fix her computer problems which always seem to crop up just before I visit in the summer and at Christmas. I will wrap all the gifts I purchased online and had shipped to Maine and I will try and slide them under the Christmas tree with the others already there. Perhaps my mom will ask me to help her cook something or run to the grocery store to pick up a few items. My dad will definitely want me to look at his malfunctioning printer (don't tell him, but I bought him a new one for Christmas that should give him no trouble for a long time). Maybe I will go over to my grandparents' house to say hello and run an errand for them.

I love my family in Maine. I love my family here in Maryland too - my school family, my church family - all of you are precious to me. You are the ones who keep me coming back here, because God knew that my call to be here would be difficult if there was no family for me here. Thanks for letting me be part of your lives.

Have a merry Christmas and I expect to see all of you New Year's Eve in church or soon thereafter!