The last week or so has been absolutely crazy, as evidenced by my lack of blogging! Anyway, my week started with a trip to Atlanta with 22 kids to visit families and caseworkers. Let’s just say that spending 10 hours in a van with 5 teenage girls is pergatory. I worked half a day on Tuesday and it seemed that every time I started to leave someone would show up unannounced. Finally, I got out of work and headed to Atlanta. The traffic was absolutley crazy but that was to be expected. I got there in time to freshen up before the other guests started arriving. My uncle had invited all the family over for dinner on Tuesday night. It was alot of fun with 23 adults and 6 children. It was good to visit with some of my cousins that I had not seen in awhile. My aunt’s brother, sister-in-law, and nephew from Florida were there also.
On Wednesday, I was awakened at 5:45 am by a phone call from work about something that they should have had the paperwork on. I was a little put out by that but went back to sleep. After breakfast, I headed out for some last minute Christmas shopping. We bummed around the house the rest of the afternoon and then went to church for the Christmas Eve service. After the service, we decided to get something to eat, and my uncle suggested Waffle House. We went into the Waffle House that was busy and noticed there was an empty table and no one seemed to be doing anything about cleaning it off, so my Type A uncle, bussed the table himself. The people at the next table left and so he bussed that one too. Then a guy who was there said he had been there an hour and still hadn’t gotten his food. We decided we better go somewhere else to eat. So as we were leaving my uncle said,”My job is done and now it is time to go!” We went to Taco Mac and all was well. We came home and opened our Christmas presents. That has become our Christmas tradition since becoming adults. My aunt’s nephew is 10 and still believes in Santa Clause, so we were trying not to ruin that for him. It was late when we got to bed and of course Shawn was up early on Christmas morning. It was hard to sleep after he opened up his electric guitar with the amp! My dad and I went and picked up my grandmother and then helped get everything to eat. We had a great meal with our family favorites of cornbread dressing, coconut cake, and ambrosia. My aunt who is from Baton Rouge, La added her family favorite of rice dressing and a cranberry dessert. It was a great combination. Shawn and my uncle raced his Razor Scooter down the hill by their house and I took a nap! It was a lazy day the rest of the day!
I got up this morning and left to come home. It was good to be with family, but I am glad to be home also. I din’t sleep so well last night because I had to sleep on a twin bed with my cousin’s min pin. That dog is spoiled to say the least! I was about to fall off the bed. I was glad to see family that I haven’t seen in a while and it was a joy to meet some new people. I look forward to doing it all again next year!
Christmas can be a bittersweet time of year for people. Although it is a time filled with laughter, fun and family, it reminds people of what or who they missing. For many people this will be there first Christmas after having lost a loved one this year. For some, they may have a loved one across the sea fighting for freedom and can’t be here with them. for many, it is a reminder of mistakes they have made and the things they have lost along the way.
The great thing about Christmas though, is that is a time of hope and thankfulness. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ. The One who came to earth as a baby to be born in a manger. Who lived a life like me, yet was without sin. The Perfect Lamb that gave His life for me on a cross and then rose three days later to give me the hope of Eternal Life. That my friend, makes me cry. Me, the unworthy sinner for whom He came to save can have the hope of a life that never ends. We celebrate His birth because without the birth there would have been no sacrifice for our sins.
Everytime I hear this song, it makes me cry. There are tears of sadness for loved ones who are no longer on this earth but also tears of joy that they are in Heaven anxioulsy awaiting my arrival. There are tears of sadness for those who have no family and do not know the joy that Christmas time can bring, but also tears of joy that they too have the hope of a better life and future. There are tears of sadness for those who are away fighting to bring peace to earth but also tears of hope that there can be peace in our own hearts this season that is given to us by the Jesus, the One sent from Heaven.
We have grown up hearing the proverb “It is better to give than receive”. This is always a favorite of parents to use on their kids when they ask for something. Now don’t get me wrong here, I love to give to other people. I find myself looking for opportunities to give to people whenever I can. It might be as small as some change for someone to get a Coke out of the machine at work, or it might be helping a friend that is a single mother.
I have come to realize though that giving and receiving is not always about material things. It is also about those intangible things that we often take for granted,like our time or our hearts.
I work in a field where I give alot each day. Alot more than I will ever get back in this lifetime. I don’t expect anything in return because for me, the reward is being able to make a difference in the life of a child and knowing that I am investing in the future. There are times when days are long and hard and you wonder if what you are doing makes any difference at all. I have found it is the simplest of things that remind me that I am. It can be as simple as a handdrawn card that says “I Love You” on it or a purple teddy bear that a kid bought at a Christmas store with bucks that he had earned being good. These are the moments that I have been blessed by being able to receive the simple gift that came from the bottom of their broken and scarred hearts, a gift that asks for nothing in return.A gift that I receive with a humble and grateful heart.
I am reminded in this holiday season, that God gave us a simple gift that came from the heart. A gift that asks for nothing in return. The gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Let us not, in this season that often becomes hectic with the hustle and bustle of giving and receiving forget this gift and if we have not, receive the gift that is the most important that we will ever receive.