Amid a flurry of drama with my family this month, I’ve also been patiently waiting on my first bird of paradise to open. I’ve had my eye on that little hump of orange that made its appearance at the beginning of December. I’ve been waiting and expecting and hoping every day, cheering on my little plant to produce the first bloom. Meanwhile, I rush to Guatemala, complete another class, close down work for a holiday break, and start/ complete shopping for those I love the most.

Much like Advent, in the middle of a busy life, I wait expectedly for a sign of new life. Deitrich Bonhoeffer said, “waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.” He says that “for the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world we must wait.”

On Christmas Eve morning I walk out to check my baby bird and find my first open bloom. But, the bloom didn’t appear on the flower I’d been watching. Here’s the gift to me: a bonus, unexpected bloom appeared at Christmastime!

Yes, it’s been a hard year. There have been so many difficulties and changes. But as Christmas arrives, I am tucked away in my new house, with all of my babies back home, and a bonus tropical bloom on a tiny new plant. God knows my version of a perfect Christmas is tropical in nature. What perfect gifts he gives to his children. Joy to the world, the Lord has come.