Last Sunday I got the "medicine" I needed for my burgeoning depression. I attended my church for the first time in about 5 months. Walking in felt like going home after a long time away. I must have gotten 40 hugs. When one friend extended her sympathy on the loss of Mom. I cried on her shoulder. The sermons was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I wanted to share that sermon with you here, unfortunately it has not yet been posted to their website.
Since then my spirits have been better than they were. I don't know what kind of a Christmas we will have. Probably not much of one. I wish I had a big family that I could celebrate with. Or that I was able to decorate my home for Christmas. I wish I could cook a big dinner....invite lots of friends, go Christmas caroling...sit in front of a blazing fireplace....
Yeah ...well thinking of what I cannot do will not do me any good. Several years ago, on Thanksgiving when I was bemoaning our plans to go and eat sushi on Thanksgiving, and when arguments threatened even that, I wrote a story: a story about a family gathering, the type I wish I could have. And somehow writing that, comforted me...Like I was creating a space for my longings and fulfilling them through the characters of the tale. And then, either that same year or the next, I wrote a Christmas story as well. I've thought about attempting to publish them...but they are really too long (at least the Christmas one may be). I'm really not sure. And it just occurred to me that they are on the laptop that no longer works. I hope I backed it up on the external hard drive. If not, I'm thinking I just may visit my computer repair friend and ask him to rescue the stuff on that laptop for me.
So, failing the cozy Christmases in my head, I will instead, fill my heart with Christmas music and celebrate the birth of Jesus there. Mary and Joseph found themselves in an unlikely place that first Christmas. They did not know that it was the first Christmas holiday ever, but they celebrated the birth of their son with shepherds and the shepherds were serenaded by angels. They did not exchange gifts, but they savored and enjoyed God's gift to them--and to us--of that precious little baby. Talk about the "gift that just keeps giving"! And maybe that's what I need to do this year: to keep my eyes open for the gifts of God to me this year...and the one GIFT --the same one given to Mary and Joseph--which is given to each of us...being the most important one of all.
Savor the season. Enjoy all the flavor of this holy-day....Ruminate on the things God gives you this year. I know that sometimes we look at our lives and wonder, not "where's the beef?" but "where's the gift?" Where's the joy? I don't pretend to understand God's ways but I do know that when you search out the good things from his hands sometimes you see things that otherwise you might have missed. God wants to share his Gift to all of us, that is, the gift of a Savior. Not just a baby in a manger, but a man hanging mutilated on a cross....and then the empty grave...where he won for us victory over the death that would otherwise await us all; one that would otherwise be spent for an eternity in the worst misery than any of us could imagine.
This year, hug your parents and your children and hold them close. Cherish the days you spend with them... Take pictures and forge memories. Laugh. Cry....Hold tightly to all of this so when the days come when you no longer have them, you can recall those special times and be comforted. Just like Mary did, keep all this in your heart and ponder it.
I will always treasure my memories of the past two Christmas Eves when Mom made those days memorable in the best Norman Rockwell manner. Laughter and family. Celebration and gratitude.
I will not forget those times. I thank you Father for those memories. And tell Mom I miss her and that I know her first Christmas in Heaven will be unforgettable.