Are you ready?

 

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Here we are: December 16th. Nine days away from Christmas!

“Are you ready?”

I’ve been hearing this question asked at the bank, at my work potluck, in line at the stores…It CRACKS me up!

Christmas comes the same time and date each year. Not like Easter, that one can mess you up. Christmas has been December 25th for about 2000 years. So, it’s not like we weren’t told about it in advance. How come people aren’t ready?

ANTICIPATION

One of the most tantalizing feelings this time of year is the anticipation leading up to this special day. I remember it well as a child.–The inability to get to sleep on December 24th. My heart beating so rapidly as the agonizing wait for 6 am (this was the absolute earliest my parents would allow for us to awake them!) and we had to bring them with us when we went downstairs to find out if all that “being good” in the weeks prior had put us on Santa’s NICE list —

SURPRISE-What did Santa bring you?

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Unfortunately, one of the biggest surprises this time of year is the VOID.

Some face the VOID of celebrating their first (or second, or third…) Christmas without their loved one.

For others there’s the VOID felt in the bank account, leaving nothing for gifts.

Amidst all the beautiful lights, wreath adorned doors, the hustle and bustle and gatherings, there are those for whom this is NOT the most wonderful time of the year. 

I’ll never forget the surprise of my very first out of state Christmas working at Phoenix Police Department. I swallowed the lump in my throat after wishing “Merry Christmas” to family and friends far away as I clocked in for my overnight shift working the holiday. I fully expected the night to be filled with bookings from partying: DUI’s and noise violations from all the celebrating…

Surprise!

The most common arrests I saw that night were the domestic violence and family assaults.

Not everyone has a family they enjoy celebrating the holiday with. That Christmas felt like a “Reverse Grinch” moment happened to me as my heart cinched up and threatened to break.

My heart has these moments when I hear a parent threaten their overly rambunctious child, “Christmas is canceled this year!”

My heart breaks every Black Friday when I watch humanity crawl and punch their way to the front line for the door-busting deals.

My heart breaks when I see the VOID left in this world.

The only cure for this heart break and void is the VERY reason why I love this season and this time of the year.

No matter how dysfunctional your family may be, no matter how misbehaved your children are, no matter how empty your bank account is, you have available a reason to celebrate–the same reason the shepherds, three wise men and a young couple with nothing celebrated in a manger  2000 years ago.

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Every year, I picture Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas Special telling Charlie the TRUE meaning of Christmas:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, 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 good tidings of great joy, which shall be to 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; Ye 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.”
Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)

He came to heal the brokenhearted.  He fills the void. He is the very reason for the season. So, the real question is:

Are you ready for Him?

 

 

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Merry Christmas

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So this is Christmas.

We spent the last three days driving anywhere between 25 and 85 m.p.h. as we maneuvered my 4 cylinder Toyota, fully loaded with presents and baggage, from sunny Arizona through drought-brown hills of California toward our destination—Vancouver, Washington for Christmas. As my furry kids (two kitties) curl up beneath my bare tree in Arizona with only my cat sitter (and lovely friend!) for company, I realize this is the first Christmas in years and years that I have not been “home” in Colorado to celebrate.

My eyes brim and my heart clinches a little.

I keep the shrinking “Grinch” heart at bay.

I think back on the events leading up to our road adventure on this marvelous holiday and feel so blessed. The lovely Thanksgiving with family and the visits from family and the friends we have celebrated with already. Gifts and good-tidings; celebrations and holiday parties, home-made treats and cups of cheer overflowing—Christmas is the best time of year!

Then there is the Post Office…I don’t EVER wait until days before Christmas to mail, (nor do I recommend this!) but I had a little book-give-away to deliver and had a VERY close call with a “Grinch” in the parking lot just days before our departure. He almost stole my joy.

But I know what Christmas is.

I was leaving my two hour post office escapade, (heart determined to be kind to all who were braving this holiday faux pas,) when a gentleman just beginning his adventure, nearly swiped my bumper. He laid on his horn to get parked in an open space 2.4 seconds sooner than if he would’ve waited for me to inch forward behind the two grey-haired drivers I followed out. All this so he could arrive those 2.4 seconds earlier in into the two hour line in the lobby that awaited him.

My “Grinch” heart shrunk a little as I thought of several choice Christmas carols I’d like to yell at him: “Oh Holy–”

But I know what Christmas is.

I breathed deep and forgave him, knowing the lengths of enjoyment that lay before him with a “honking attitude” like he harbored.

Torrents of rain the night before we left awakened us through the night. We looked forward to grabbing our hot Dunkin’ Donut’s coffee before hitting the road. Avoiding the 15 car drive-thru line, we hoofed it to the entrance. On our way out, we fell silent passing an unkempt man wearing shorts and a light coat, holding a small grocery bag and seeking shelter out of the rain. My heart clinched and I pushed my sunglasses higher on my nose.

I think I know what Christmas is.

We still departed on our journey, but feeling pretty heavy–discovering he had spent the rain-drenched night outside. We left him with some home baked zucchini bread and money.

We ran out of clean clothes along the way, slept on some seriously rock hard mattresses and ate one-too-many continental breakfasts, but we are so blessed with what we have.

We think we know what Christmas is.

Though I am not with my family or at my “home,” I prepare to spend this blessed holiday with my fiancés family. Months ago, I planned a surprise for him. Before our Christmas Eve stop, I arranged for a “starter tree” to greet us and a few sparkling ornaments with which to decorate it. The look of surprise and wonder on his face at the discovery was equal to any child’s on Christmas day! It was pure wonderful!

I am feeling Christmas again.

And, as we prepare to hit the road again; washing our underwear, unpacking and re-packing, wrapping packages late into Christmas Eve, I know Christmas is MORE than family, sparkling decorations, packages and surprises from a jolly, fat, red-suited man.

I think of other travelers, long ago, who were “displaced” from their homes on this magical night.

No grouchy, horn-blowing Grinch can take Christmas from me. Those long ago travelers brought a gift to me and to all who believe.

I know what Christmas is.

The Charlie Brown’s Christmas special is one of my all-time fave’s. Linus wraps up nicely exactly what Christmas is…
Charlie Brown: Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

[moves toward the center of the stage]

Linus Van Pelt: Lights, please.

[a spotlight shines on Linus]

Linus Van Pelt: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, 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 unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye 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.'”

[Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]

Linus Van Pelt: That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

(from www.imdb.com Charlie Brown Christmas Quotes)

 

For the horn- blower, for the Grinch, for the Dunkin-Donut’s rain man, for all people on all the earth–

–Wishing you all a magical and Merry Christmas, where ever you are!