It is that holiday time of the year. I am forced, as a public school teacher, to remain benign to the “Christmas Spirit”. Everything I send home must say “holiday” not “Christmas” and must never contain anything that might be construed as religious in nature. This got me thinking about the most wonderful CHRISTMAS gifts I have ever received. I remember getting the Chrissy Doll with hair that actually grew—of course I cut it within a week and never played with her again. I remember getting a Viewmaster slide projector as a gift from the church in St. Louis—wow, I loved that and played with it for almost two weeks before putting it in the corner of my room. There are very few gifts I have actually used or appreciated long after they were given. My husband knew that if it plugged in—it wasn’t a gift—what a smart man. The gifts I truly cherish are those not wrapped and placed under the tree, but given with love by those who have experienced this life journey with me.
Tom Paine stated in 1791 “and the slavery of fear made man afraid to think”—I am so very thankful for the gift of free thought that was not only embraced, but encouraged by my family. It is a gift that continues to give as we grow together and appreciate the thought processes we so eagerly mock within each other.
The gift of friendship so freely given, is one I treasure. When I think of Christ and his close friendships, I feel I am luckier than he. I have had friends stick by me through tremendous heartache—no one has denied me or even given up on me. I read in many books not to expect my friendships to remain in tact through the grieving process; apparently, my friends beat the odds—they have not only stayed, but loved through it all and now they share in my joys as I regain a new normal. The gift of new relationships is also something I value this year. It is amazing to me how God provides just what we need.
According to Nelson Algren, “the journey is all”. I actually appreciate the gift of “the journey”. I am grateful that there is a God who loves and cares for me and wants the best for my life. I value the one who leads me through the maze of life’s decisions. I am not sure where I would be at this point if it weren’t for extreme faith, but I DO know where I would be without it.
Supportive family is a gift I am fortunate to have received. Not only am I blessed with amazing parents who, after 40+ years are still in love each other, I am also blessed with brothers who mean the world to me and sister-in-laws who are equally a part of my heart. I am fortunate that my family has loved me through these past months with intensity and resolve to see me through to the other side.
The love of my children is a gift I treasure beyond words. They love so completely and so meaningfully. I honor who they are and who they will become. They have so much of their earthly father within them that I know they have tender hearts. They have enough of their mother that I know they have some “spunk”. I am truly privileged to be their mother.
I am thankful for the promise of tomorrow. I am forever grateful for the hope of a future and an openness of love that is always there for the taking. I am opening the gift of hope—hope that our lives with be stronger and that love will one day fill our home again. God is so faithful to complete all we ask and hope for.
Finally, I am grateful for the gift of Jesus Christ. The hope that his birth represents is simply astounding. I am normally a big Easter fan (it is my favorite holiday), but if it weren’t for the amazing birth, there would never have been a resurrection and without the resurrection there would never be hope. This is the HOPE that insures all of us a future filled with confidence and anticipation.
Throughout this holiday season……
THIS I know for sure….