Sometimes, Christmas is a Christmas of Lasts. Three years ago today, my Mother died in Memphis, just 10 days before Christmas and 14 days short of 10 years after my Dad. Although we try not to associate the deaths with a day that, by its very nature, is the ultimate non-death Holy-Day, it's still a little bittersweet at this time of year, having had to say goodbye to one so dear at a time when we expect to be renewing “hellos” with folks we may not have seen in months, sometimes years.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Christmas 2007 was my last with my Mom, all the more so by being so far away. At least in 2007, although we had moved out here in July, we visited home for a week or 10 days before Christmas. In 2008, it was only me, flying back to say goodbye just a few days before getting back home just in time to avoid another Christmas First; one without my kids, after my ex-wife and I separated in September.
But this year is that Christmas of Firsts: the first one in which I’ll keep an 18 year tradition alive only by phone. Every year since Tim was born, we have gathered as a family on Christmas Eve to read the Christmas Story from Luke’s Gospel, and have a glass of egg nog. my ex-wife will have the kids for Christmas, while I’ll be here in Salem.
Please don’t misunderstand. While my heart will ache just a little at not seeing my kiddos until the following Thursday, I’m not complaining. It’s only fair that my ex-wife have her Christmas with them. I’ve had them for the past two, and I’m publically grateful to her that our divorce has been relatively amicable, and that the inexcusable horror of ex-spouses using their kids as weapons against each other is totally absent in our case. We’ve always done our best to put our kids first. I’m overwhelmingly grateful that our Christmas Eve tradition will survive for another year. And that my Christmas will hardly be lonely. I’ve made dear, dear friends here that I never would have met any other way. God can truly “work all things together for good.”
So if I can give you one bit of hope, one small reason to celebrate when your heart just isn’t in it, however bright or dark your Christmas may be, whether a Christmas First, a Christmas Last, or a Christmas Both. Let it be this:
“And there were in the same country, shepherds, abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the Glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people. For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest! And on Earth, peace, good will toward men.’”Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.
15 December 2011