I'm at home today for Christmas, which is great since last night I was alone on Christmas Eve for the first time in my entire life because I didn't want to drive through the icy dark night to get home. That, and there wasn't anywhere for me to sleep here since we have family in town and the house is overrun with eight kids between the ages of 10 and 18. So last night was a quiet evening of wine and baking and watching Bill Cosby Himself (classic) on Netflix Instant. Yay for technology!
On Tuesday night we had our roomie Christmas celebration. We headed downtown and I took the girls to see Seven Brides For Seven Brothers at the 5th Avenue, and then went home where I got a stocking of gifts for the first time in I don't know how long (my family does not exchange gifts on principle). We then sat around the kitchen table eating homemade pizza and sharing reflections on the year, and hopes for 2009.
My reflection was that 2008 was a year of endings. I've blogged about moving out and the freedom from old wounds of the past. I definitely feel that I am in a long process of change, that new things are coming. The verses that have been on my heart these past couple of years are all from Isaiah: themes of redemption, newness, fulfilled promises. So the endings are good in that they are full of hope for the future. But one ending was harder than the others.
On December 15th, my grandma's life here on earth ended and she went home to be with Jesus. She was ready to go-she knew it was coming, and she wanted to be at peace and in the presence of her Lord and Savior. I am grateful that she is no longer suffering and that I had good time with her before she went. I've been blessed by years of her love and counsel and example of faith and compassion. And having the assurance of her salvation and current state brings my family an amazing amount of peace and contentment.
But it hurts.
It hurts to be here at home with family and not have her with us. It hurts knowing that so many things in my life that I thought she would be a part of-my wedding, birth of my kids, that kind of thing-she will be absent from. It hurts knowing that I will never hear her quiet voice or feel her gentle touch again.
In one of my last conversations with my grandma, she told me that her favorite worship song was 'Amazing Love'. I was going to make that song part of last week's worship set, because it was the fourth Sunday of Advent, with the candle representing the Love of God. And it is this amazing love that brought Jesus to earth as a baby. His love that caused Him to walk this earth and suffer for us, to experience the same hurt that I am feeling now, and to overcome that hurt with His sacrifice and the hope of His resurrection. So while I hurt, I also feel peace and joy, and love for this Savior who blessed me with my grandma and has now welcomed her into His arms.
Today we gathered the family together to read the Christmas story, and my littlest brother DJ said, "I know what Christmas is all about!" And so we asked him to tell us, and he did:
"Well, there were shepherds, watching their sheep, and there was a woman, named Mary (just like you Mom!) and the angels came and said 'don't be afraid, I have good news to make all people happy.' And there was Jesus, lying on his bed of hay. And the angels said, 'glory and God in the highest'. And so Christmas isn't about presents, it's about giving and love stuff."
That's what it's about kids. Giving and love stuff.