First, you need to know one thing: my Aunt Janet makes the world’s best fudge.
You may think you know someone else who does. You may think you know a little shop that does. I’m sorry, but you do not. Unless you know my Aunt Janet, and are on her Christmas fudge mailing list, you have not yet had the world’s best fudge. Full stop.
Beyond its deliciousness, its perfect consistency and flavor, my favorite part of her Christmas fudge is that it gets sent every year in some adorable little tin she’s collected along the way.
The fudge used to arrive at my parents’ address, wherever that happened to be. The last few years, it has arrived at my house. Partly because that’s where the whole family eventually landed, but also, I suspect, because last year she was not going to send it, trying to respect some family health concerns (everyone is fine–no worries). I got wind of this and shot off the fastest email you ever saw, begging her to reconsider, that I simply could not “do Christmas,” without her fudge. I’m pretty sure that’s why this year, two days ago in fact, the fudge arrived. At my house. In a lovely little red tin with Santa on it. And after sampling One. Little. Piece. I tucked it away in the back of the fridge until the rest of my family can enjoy it too. I’m good like that. (Really I’m afraid they’d do bodily harm if I did not.)
For as long as I have memory, Aunt Janet’s fudge has arrived somewhere around the third week of Advent. And while I really, really, really enjoy the taste of it, I love what it represents even more.
My aunt prays for me regularly. She prays for many people regularly, and with a steadfast, unshakeable faith. She is also one of the most gracious people I know. She knows what grit is, I can tell you that for sure, and she loves so very deeply.
Real talk: the holidays are not easy for me, and that has been true for a few years now. Still, the heart of who I am as a person of faith rests in the truth of the Christmas story, because I believe with everything I am that there was, and still is, something profoundly powerful and redemptive and salvific about the birth of Jesus. I believe that God hard-wired us for the kind of love expressed in the Gospels, and that in such love and relationship lies tremendous hope.
This year, on the back of our little family of two’s Christmas card (which I have not mailed yet…gah!), I had printed an excerpt from the words to a song sung by Indigo Girls. I’ve shared them below (and I highly recommend you find it online and listen to it in full):
One tiny child can change the world
One shining light can show the way
Beyond my tears for what I’ve lost
There’s still my joy
There’s still my joy
For Christmas day
There’s still my joy for Christmas day
Which is to say…I am not the only one for whom the holidays are not easy. In fact, for many folks they are much harder. And the “merry and bright,” all around us can make it seem even more difficult. And…we live in a very dark, and very angry, and very chaotic, and very scary world. Also full stop. And our hearts get broken, and our lives get shattered, and so much does not turn out the way we intended, or planned or hoped.
But also…just like it has my whole life long, Aunt Janet’s fudge, made with more love, I am sure, than I even realize…shows up. And in such a small and yet simply everything gift I find light enough to remember that we are so loved. And that all around us, if we’ve eyes to see it, pulses that light enough–in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of places and sometimes in the most unlikely ways.
There’s still my joy. In hands held, and songs sung, and prayers whispered and stories shared and the pure grace the girl-child in my house brings to this life.
Last night was the longest night of the year, y’all. From here on out, every day, light wins the battle against darkness. And I promise you, somewhere, light is shining, even if through the tiniest sliver. Look for it. Wait for it. Trust that it will come. As reliable as Aunt Janet’s fudge is, this light, it is so much more so. It is everything.
And it came into the world, this light, full of life, so that you and I might have life, too.