It is Christmas Eve as I start writing this, around 11:55am, and I begin the process of attempting to put feelings into words on a digital piece of paper. This year as in many others, the business of life, ministry, and annoying health issues (actually, this part is new) have made me say more than once… “I can’t believe Christmas is x-amount of days away.” Now, it is the eve of the day that we Christians choose to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and a LOT of things are flittering around in my old head.
— p a u s e —
For various reasons, I am finishing this post on the day after Christmas. I stopped to deal with a defective Google Pixel 6a (early Christmas gift, bah humbug), fiddling around with a new knee brace (yes, it is still messed up), for a trip to my mother-in-law’s home in a neighboring community for our annual gathering with Dawn’s side of the Christmas equation. Then, of course, we had our little family gathering here at the homestead with our kiddos for Christmas day. So…
Now, we are back on track. This year, I have been awash in old memories and new realities. The memory flood started when I stumbled upon a video on YouTube which consisted of a gorgeous drone flight EXACTLY where Dawn and I lived in Braila, RO about eleven years ago. It catapulted me back in time to that neighborhood, the beautiful Orthodox cathedral outside our window, and memories of our first Christmas in Romania. I also recalled other times from past Christmas’ and realized that this Christmas season was very different in one important way. At 62, I clearly realize that my health has declined. Now, mind you, I don’t feel like I am about to check myself into the nursing home, but I know that I must make an honest effort to establish some life changes in the new year. Else, next Christmas may see further decline and more harsh realities. Ok, that’s enough of that… moving on.
What is Christmas like for you? “If” you would like to send me a message about your experiences, feel free to use the contact form here to do so. Do you sense that the world around us has gotten far away from the original intent of our forefathers? I am talking about traditional American views of Christmas… the birth of Jesus, family gatherings, showing compassion to the poor, and gift giving. Let’s not get caught up in the weeds of exactly when Jesus was born, what Christmas tree’s origins were, or the value of St. Nicholas. I suppose what I am asking is this: “Has our culture nearly eradicated the true meaning of Christmas?” Maybe.
Memories. Here is another. I recall a handful of times in my home (as a child) that were pleasant and happy, not filled with the usual dysfunction that was my childhood existence. One such time was a night when I was around 8 to10-years old and our home was at peace and the smell of oranges and cedar filled the air. I was trying hard to sleep in my little shared bedroom but was so excited about the love I felt in my home and how mom and dad were getting along so well. This was about as close to a Norman Rockwell scene as I could imagine at our house. Then, late into the night, I heard a train whistle blowing in the living room and hushed voices mumbling about something. I finally drifted off to sleep and awoke to my first electric train set! It was not all that big but it was awesome. That Christmas was almost perfect… no fighting, no cursing, no whippings… just the kind of memory that every child deserves to have. In that little house of around 800 sq’, with my parents, my older half-brother and younger sister.. I felt normal, safe, and blessed.
As a little side note, I am sitting at a desk in that same little bedroom (now a simple home office), typing this to you right now. After my mom passed away, Dawn and I purchased my sister’s inherited value of the home and we live there today. It is still a small home, but we have made some improvements and it meets our current needs. I must say that it does bring a different flavor to the telling of that memory and as an older man, I look at the size of this room and wonder how in the world my siblings and I lived comfortably together in it through most of our childhood years. Yet, those were very different times. Some of you will understand what I mean.
Well, I could go on and on with the memories, instead I think I will dig out a few old photos, and maybe a few new ones, to share some visual memories with you. When you click on a picture to expand it, look for the captions to understand what you are looking at… if it isn’t obvious.
God bless you and I hope you have many more positive than negative memories of Christmas past ( and present 😉 )
PS: above all, it is Jesus, only Jesus… not only at this time of the year, but every day… Merry Christmas and rich blessings in the New Year, amen.