Around midnight, tonight, I will quietly open the front door, and step out onto the porch.
Because it is Christmas Eve, the world will be quiet, and still. There is no traffic noise; everyone is snuggled in their beds, waiting for Santa.
The lights on the houses will sparkle up and down the block, winking and reminding us of our neighbors good cheer.
The warm, fragrant air from the house will spill out the open door, and circle around me, filled with the smells of Christmas: Turkey, pies, cookies, and coffee.
The breeze on my face will be cold, but the air will be fresh and sweet and pure.
The night sky will be dark; I won't quite be able to make out the stars. Maybe it is the light from the city below us in the valley... maybe it is the festive Christmas lights up and down the block. But I will look for the Christmas star anyway - the ancient light that shone over one little crib, over two thousand years ago.
As I look toward the heavens, I will think of Mary & Joseph. They were so tired and scared, and so far from home.
I will give a prayer of thanks for the sacrifice they made for all of us. For the child that was not just theirs, but ours as well.
And I will give a prayer of thanks for you, my friends. For those of you who walk beside me on this journey, and who know my own exhaustion, fear, and pain. You are among my greatest gifts, this year and every year.
Merry Christmas, my friends.