Today I’m not only talking about Christmas as I declare “It’s almost here!” I’m also thinking of the end of 2020. Thinking of it as the “year that was” should feel good.
And with those thoughts, we can move ahead into 2021 with hope and anticipation of better days ahead.
This Christmas season will be different for many of us. Traditions set aside for safer gatherings. Perhaps one less in that family photo or at the table. Inability to visit and cheer those housed in nursing facilities or in the hospital. And likely many more.
If we love as Christ taught us to love, we are willing to accept these inconveniences.
Looking ahead, we hope for the light at the end of this seemingly endless dark tunnel to lead to better times. The vaccine is here, injections are being given, and plans established for each of us to receive it. With gratitude in our hearts, a new year is beginning with the hope of healing and diminishing numbers of victims.
Live into that Light. The Light and Love that came down at Christmas of old is still with us. We need only to live it and share it with others.
Today I’m joining a talented group of writers at Five Minute Friday. This community connects each Friday in an online, unedited free-write based on a one-word prompt. My timer is set for 5 minutes. Let’s see where this week’s prompt—PRESENT—leads me.
Likely many are thinking of the list of presents they need to buy, wrap, ship, or deliver. In our family, we’ve created a new process, thanks to the pandemic.
However, before I share that with you, I’d like to tell you about the decision my husband and I landed on some three decades ago. Each Christmas I’d make a list of things I needed/wanted, jot down the store where it could be found, size (if necessary), color, cost. Then Bob could take off shopping with a lot less frustration than if he had to come up with the list and figure out where to shop.
After watching his frustration for several years, we discussed a new way to give and receive. We asked what gift could we give each other better than we had given on August 15, 1981—ourselves! And so it has been since that long-ago discussion. We don’t buy each other gifts at Christmas or other holidays, not even our anniversary.
Now to today’s process for our kids, grandkids, and great-grands this Christmas. Since we are under lockdown in Oregon and we’re both immune-compromised, I’m shopping online for gift cards. Each family member who lands on our Christmas list will receive one inside a Christmas card via USPS. Hopefully, they can enjoy the delight of shopping for themselves online and not be disappointed.
However, with Advent upon us until Christmas Eve, present means so much more than I’ve written above. I’m stepping outside the busyness, the noise, and minimizing the financial element and stress of the season, only imposed by society and me. I’m inviting in the Christ Child, Jesus, as the presence I’m seeking this Christmas.
2020 has been a long slow slog for all of us. I think His Presence is what is needed for each of us. Being present with Christ is so comforting, soul-satisfying, and joy-filled. Why not make that the present you give to yourself on Christmas Day, 2020?
Rainy autumn days arrived in the Pacific Northwest with bluster. With them, they brought winds that tossed colorful leaves everywhere. Our maple tree left our driveway looking like a leaf mosaic. Bob took the photo above on one of his daily trips to our mailbox last week.
With the change in our weather, the last weekend in November upon us, and new COVID restrictions on Oregon activities, it must be Thanksgiving. Things have tightened up with regard to social gatherings as the number of new cases and deaths have increased here. It is hard to celebrate while so many others are grieving, are houseless and hungry, and struggling economically to keep businesses afloat.
December 2019 is here. Where did November, October, and September go? In my world, they seemed to fly by. How about you? The image above reflects mostly what I’ve been doing–reading by the fire.
In looking through my blog yesterday, I was shocked to find my last post was on November 19, 2019. The post is my review of Kathy Pooler’s second memoir, Just the Way He Walked(see Disclosures). I have other book reviews to share but I’ll be honest and not beat around the bush. My motivation to write, even a book review, is gone.
I seek inspiration looking out the windows, listening to music, reading others’ work. Nothing happens. Nothing comes to me. I go back over my list of ideas for blog posts. Nothing jolts me into action. And it’s not just writing.
Some days I can’t find interest in doing much of anything. I tackle the mundane–household chores, laundry, cleaning the kitchen following meals, wiping down countertops. These are chores that cry out to be dealt with NOW!
Why am I telling you all this? Simply to let you know that I’m going to turn out the lights on the blog until January 2020 in hopes of feeling more like the writer/blogger I have been. I may even tackle sending out a monthly newsletter. Who knows what the new year may bring?
With the preparations needed for the holiday season and appointments four out of five days next week, I need to devote time to get through this month.
I came across this quote from Marianne Williamson this morning.
‘Once everything falls into place,
I’ll feel peace.’
‘Find your peace, and
everything will fall into place.’
A still small voice said, “You need to find peace with your current situation.” That’s my plan for December 2019.
Gratitude is talked and written about a great deal as we approach Thanksgiving. I listen and take part but wonder if gratitude isn’t meant as an everyday occurrence. Isn’t there always something in a day you are grateful crossed your way?
Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all. ~~ William Faulkener
When I wake in the morning, it is simple to open my eyes and thank God for:
Good health, both mine and my husband’s, as well as our ability to care for our home and ourselves.
Another day to write, create, communicate, think, see, hear, breathe, and live and love.
Our thriving children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Our marriage and life together.
Our home and our ability to continue to live here.
Our days are spent in our individual work areas seeing each other only at lunchtime when I’m reminded of:
Bob’s patient and forgiving nature.
Many storms, big and small, survived surrounding jobs, finances, children.
Mutual understanding and encouragement of the other’s creative gifts and talents.
Satisfaction found in our morning devotional time.
And lastly, when I think of our many freedoms, I give thanks for:
Freedom to practice our religion of choice where, when, and with whom we choose to worship.
Freedom of speech allowing us to verbally express or write our thoughts and opinions freely and without fear.
Freedom to vote.
Freedom to seek medical care where and from the physician I choose.
Freedom to gather in public places to enjoy friends, family, neighbors, and more without fear.
My friends, we are truly blessed in many ways. If you doubt that is the case, then look for a moment at the lives of those who are not living as we do:
The hungry and homeless.
Children and the elderly suffering from terminal illnesses without the benefit of good care and insurance.
Friends and acquaintances who complain aloud to others about their spouses or significant others.
Those going through separations and divorces, especially families with children.
Victims, both male and female, of domestic abuse and violence, and children who are victims of abuse.
Those struggling with mental illness who either harm themselves, their families, or innocent others.
Those living under a government where religion is dictated.
Those living where they are not allowed to think or speak freely.
Those living where there is no democratic form of government and no freedom to vote.
Those living where to gather in public may mean arrest or death.
Those living in all parts of the world under some oppressive force over which they will never be able to climb out of poverty, homelessness, hunger, poor health, lack of education, and more.
Those who immigrated to our country illegally and then brought children into the world who are American citizens, and all of whom are the object of much anger, debate, and confusion in our government and within our population.
Refugees, whether from Syria or elsewhere, fleeing war-torn lands governed by a dictatorship where no one cares about who is hurting, dying, and leaving their homeland. Looking to other countries to take them, hopefully with help to return them to a peaceful homeland, they stand at the door and literally knock hoping not to be turned away. All while fear and doubt exist on both sides of the door.
Have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!
If you feel so inclined, please leave a comment about how you’ll be spending Thanksgiving, what you feel thankful for, or why you struggle with the concept of gratitude. We speak openly and freely here, so please share your honest thoughts.