This Christmas is strung with an array of emotions. As you know, I have two adorable little boys who are at that magical age where Christmas is nothing but exciting! What you probably don’t know is that my grandfather is dying. At thanksgiving he entered into a wonderful hospice facility and was projected to live 2 weeks or so. We are now at Christmas time and daily we are told it will be a matter of hours, and daily- breath by breath- he exceeds expectations. I do believe that there is value in every human life, regardless of age or ability. However, he is no longer responding to stimulus and the longer it takes for him to enter into Heaven's gates the harder it is to grapple the realities of it all [strictly speaking for myself].
All of my grandparents played a very active and present role throughout my childhood- I’m convinced it’s one of the greatest treasures of my childhood. I’m the second oldest of 10 grandchildren on my mother’s side. My grandparents were in their early 40’s when my sister and I were born! Because they were so young I have some fabulous memories of them imparting their wisdom & love into my life on all our many adventures. My grandfather encouraged us to go after life and to help others along the way.
My grandfather, in good health and poor health, was a singer. His tenor voice could carry throughout the house from one room to another. One of my vivid memories as a child was driving to Dalton to see my great grandparents, both my sister and I sitting in between my grandparents in the front seat (yes, It was a huge car and back then there was no worries about children riding in the front seat at all). We would learn & sing all sorts of hymns.. How Great Thou Art, The Old Rugged Cross, Oh How I Love Jesus, and all it takes is a few cords of In The Garden to be transported back into that car where life was sweet and simple and I didn’t have to wait hours to open presents at Christmas time (we opened from youngest to oldest for quite some time).
So how do we celebrate Christmas when one of the cornerstones of our family is dying and my grandmother, whom I adore, is losing her spouse? The question keeps coming up and is unavoidable. There really are no simple answers.
What I do know is that all I keep thinking is that the baby born in a manger 2,000 years ago served a very specific purpose that seems amplified this year. Jesus Christ was and continues to be the most lavishing gift of love and eternal life from God the Father. Though there will likely be tears of grief, I pray more tears will be shed of the beauty of it all. The fact that we are so loved that God sent his Son. The coming days may get harder but I know that baby wrapped in swaddling clothes was our promise to eternal life. He is our Emmanuel. He is indeed God with us.
And when I think of it in those terms- the beauty of Christmas returns. I get all excited for my grandfather and for those who know the true meaning of Christmas! And I know that this family that my grandfather loved and raised can mourn with joyous hearts because we too have the opportunity to “cling to the old rugged cross and exchange it some day for a crown."
All because of a Baby.
All because of a Cross.
All because of Love.
All because of Jesus Christ.