The sky is once again aflame with pink and orange – the sunrises this month have been especially spectacular, excepting the mornings of steady rain and fog, of course. I am writing quickly and hopefully quietly in a room full of my sleeping people. Three out of the five of us chose to sleep in the living room by Bobby’s roaring fire. I am again thankful for this house, the woodburning stove, the health of the children (even with the diabetes), that somehow we remain intact.

Chelsea’s sleepover plans fell through last night – she’d planned to stay the night at a friend’s, but the friend’s mom wasn’t prepared for it – so she called us at 10:30 p.m. asking if we could pick her up instead. Now, the girl whose house she was supposed to be staying at is dating the roommate of Chelsea’s boyfriend. We’d okayed them staying over at the boys’ house until 10:30 p.m., but then they were supposed to go to the friend’s house. When that fell through, Chelsea called. We weren’t checking up on her, so theoretically, she could’ve been sneaky and stayed the night at her boyfriend’s. But she didn’t, because she knew we wouldn’t be cool with it. So she called and was relieved we didn’t mind picking her up. She did the right thing. And it’s not that she often does the wrong thing, but we’ve certainly had plenty of conflict – and when you’re the parent of a teenager, any time that teenager chooses the path of good feels like a victory.

But the “Christmas Miracle” is this: my dad, the same dad who responded to my last request for help with a car by first refusing and then lecturing me on how I’ve “chosen a life of poverty” in the best conservative talk show host style, suddenly announced he was coming up for a quick visit last week, arrived in town, and said he needed a ride to Mid-City Motors – because he’d made arrangements to buy a new car because he was giving me his 2001 Honda Civic. He has been increasingly generous this year; perhaps he’s realized we’re not total losers just because we don’t make lots of money, or maybe Nick’s diabetes diagnosis opened a door to his heart. I don’t know. I do know that this was an incredibly generous act that makes my life considerably easier in many ways. The need for a car in our society is a good discussion topic, but in a practical application to my life right now, a dependable, well-maintained car is more than just a way to get from point A to point B: it’s freedom and security for my family. I am ever so grateful to my dad for providing those things for me now.