As the Christmas season unfolded these past few weeks, journaling took a back seat. Beginning with the adventure in Texas that my darling and I went on mid month, there was so much going on in my heart I didn’t want to take the time to stop and make notes. Jesus was the reason for the Season this year as I had spent a good deal of time in contemplation during the weeks of Advent. I wanted to “prepare for the coming of the Lord”. I had never really thought much about this process in prior years and this year I wanted to explore the possibilities inherent in this endeavor. There were lots of resources on line to choose from that offered daily meditations, prayer and scriptural support. There were several I really delved into and the result was a deep connection and love of Christ, and a surprising anticipation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth that I had not had since I was a child.
December 15th, we went to Texas for our first visit as husband and wife. Tom got to experience the love, joy and friendship of my late husband’s, (Archie’s), family that they so sweetly extended to him. Tom also got to share my granddaughters’ Christmas Pageant for the first time. What a blessing these girls are in our lives and how generous of this family to embrace Tom and include him as one of their own. We were ready to be home at the end of our short visit though and turned our focus to our families here in Michigan and the events and celebrations we would have here. Filled with the love of our Texas Family we set out to share full hearts with the rest of the two clans.
Sharing the Joy of the Season with my parents was a sweet gift. At 93 and 94, the years ahead are precious so I am especially thankful for all the holidays and visits we get to share with them. My mother and father are spry, independent and generous people and I am grateful for all the love that they have given me and are now giving to Tom. Becoming a part of Tom’s family has been more challenging for me. Not knowing quite how to fit in as the “new” wife of their widowed father has made me feel somewhat uncertain about my role with each of his son’s and daughter’s-in-law. His grandchildren are adults also but Tom’s great-grandchildren are still young enough that I can just give them kisses and hugs and enjoy playing grandma to them. By just being present to everyone and extending a helping hand where I could, I was able to sit on the sidelines and let my new family heal a little more from the loss of their mother and grandmother. This is the second Christmas since Dorothy died and the years of family traditions and memories are still a present and painful loss. I felt blessed to be able to witness the transformative power of God’s love in their lives without feeling the need to jump in and “help” or “fix” and was grateful for the time I had to share with them.
Tom and I attended several different church denominations through Christmas. We appreciate the biblical lessons that Pastor Paul teaches so well at the New Lothrop Church of the Nazarene and we attended the Candlelight service there on Christmas Eve. From New Lothrop we went home to Ortonville and attended Midnight Mass at my Catholic church where, as it says in the sweet little book, “The Secret Life of Bees”; “it’s all about the altar”, i.e., the sacraments. We ended our celebration at a praise service on Sunday in a beautiful Methodist Church in our neighborhood in the hopes of finding a church home that is all, “about community”. This particular Methodist Church spearheads the organization of a massive food and clothing drive and rummage sale to benefit the less fortunate in our community. I love our smorgasbord of Christian tradition. To us, “church” is all of it. Each experience speaks to different parts of our spiritual nature. We have many opportunities to be filled with God’s message in communities where Jesus’ interpretation of the bible is taught. We have specifically looked for religious communities that espouse tolerance, acceptance, forgiveness, unconditional love, care for those in need that translates into action, and the promise of redemption for all. We find communities like these are led by clergy that recognize Jesus’ core message and are populated by open minded and loving participants who practice what Christ taught. Mega churches are cool and definitely generate a lot of energy, but Tom and I prefer the smaller more intimate settings to connect to God, ourselves and others in prayerful celebration.
All in all, the 2015 Holiday Season from Thanksgiving through Christmas was rich with love, gratitude, intimacy, sharing, and God’s presence. It also included challenges, communication breakdowns, struggles, fears and grappling with ego but, thankfully, these were all transcended and transformed by the Grace of God. It was the best Christmas ever!