Saturday, December 31, 2011


Year's End

I find it fascinating that most of our world's religions celebrate their major holiday's during this time of year, when most of the world is filled with cold days and long dark nights.  (Or at least it's supposed to be.  Here in Indiana, we've been treated to a pretty mild December.)  Even religions far older than Christianity celebrate the passing of the Earth's darkest night and the start of the journey towards her brightest day.  (No Green Lantern reference intended.)  It's fitting that so much of the world chooses to celebrate with messages of hope, happiness, and merriment as the dawning of a new year approaches.  It is a time to reconcile our challenges from the past year and move forward to a stronger future. 

For me, the holiday season is about spending time with friends and family.  My fondest memories from childhood surround the holiday season.  Travelling as a family to spend Christmas with my Uncle Mike, Aunt Jean, Cousin's David, Steve, and Beth in Wichita, Kansas.  Playing outside in the snow with friends (it sure seems like it snowed a lot more back then).  Helping Mom with the Christmas cookies...eating the Christmas cookies!  Staying up late and going to the 11pm Christmas Eve service.  The complete darkness of the Sanctuary as midnight approached and all the lights were shut out.  Watching the single light of the Christ candle progress towards the front of the Church, and then being awed by the beauty of that light growing as it was spread throughout the congregation by the acolytes, while the we sang Silent Night, ultimately filling the gothic style sanctuary with the soft glow of candlelight as we moved into Joy To The World.  Carrying the Christ candle when I was the president of the Youth Group.  All the excitement of Christmas morning...            

Ever since the accident, the holiday's have felt like a chore, but this year was different.  Sure getting the gifts is always physically challenging (I usually need a shower after I'm done), but I enjoyed spending time with my father as we went from store to store.   The first Christmas and new Years Eve after the accident, from my perspective, was over shadowed by sadness and frustration; as I had only been out of the hospital for five days.  The holiday's after that were simply uncomfortable and different.  We haven't been to the 11pm service for years.  Partly because the 5pm service is more geared toward children (better for my niece), but also partly because I didn't have the energy to go to the 11pm service on my own.  I couldn't sleep at my parents, and so would spend Christmas day napping during the day instead of spending time with my loved ones.   

However, as I said, this year was different I had more energy.  One of the best gifts Madeline could have given me was to ask me to sing with her and the rest of the kids choir and other Dad's & Uncle's at the 5pm service.  As it was our Senior Pastor's last Christmas service with us, the majority of the family decided to return for the 11pm service.  It's been six years since the last time that I saw the lights turned out for the candlelight portion of the service, as we leave them on for the children during the 5pm service.  It was such a wonder to once again be surrounded by that soft light.  This was the beginning of my true Christmas!

The following day I had enough energy to help Madeline put together a new board game and then figure out how to play it with her.  I love my Madeline and me time!  The family enjoyed wonderful time together visiting with friends and extended family throughout the week.  Last night I had the pleasure of spending time with dear friends that I have known since middle school, and tonight I get to enjoy a relaxing evening at home (very much in need thanks to an annoying cold) watching movies on my new Blu-Ray player...thanks Mom and Dad!  Happy New Year everyone!   

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