I wasn’t going to make a Christmas entry this year. I’ve been remiss in my Journal entries as it is and in many ways its been tough to capture the holiday spirit, so I’d decided to let things go and try to start fresh again in January.
This past year has been difficult on many levels, and while I enjoyed shopping for special ones in my life, most other aspects of holiday planning were much more chore than delight for the first time in almost as long as I can remember. So I went to dad’s tonight with more a sense of obligation than anticipation. The early part of the evening did nothing to dispel my mood – he was difficult and frustrating and I was reminded once again that my role is now so much more that of parent to him than child. And when we arrived at church for the candlelight service, it seemed the remainder of the evening would only hold more of the same.
But then the carols started and I found my voice, joining in the celebration of the season and allowing myself to be reminded once more of what Christmas is truly about. And a sense of hope – one missing for too long now – began to creep back in, a warm feeling that was instantly familiar and welcome once more.
Now please do not think that I do not know that my life is blessed – more than many if not most, and far more than I deserve. There are people in my life who love me, and without whose strength and support I would find it close to impossible to face some days – and for that I am and will be eternally grateful. Yet there have still been days of self-doubt and darkness, of questioning and of concern for what the future may hold that also take their toll sometimes.
Christmas is always a difficult time of year for me anyway – because it was my mother’s favorite holiday and because therefore most memories have a bittersweet tinge to them. But tonight the opposite was true. As the lights dimmed and the candles were lit in the quiet sanctuary, as Silent Night began softly and wafted through the congregation as if borne on the tip of each flickering light, gaining strength from each new flame, the darkness began to slip away. My voice wavered and the tears began to flow - and hope grew anew.
Late tonight, I walked in the quiet of the moonlight – and my heart was very full. There was a spring to my step and light in my soul – gifts beyond measure that helped me once again to savor each word shared with those important in my life, to treasure each small gift of kindness and to cherish each star in the sky.
I know that there will be more dark days – they are an inevitable part of life. But for tonight, hope is born again – as far away as in a distant manger, but also as close as the beating of my heart. And what better way to start another Christmas day?
To those in my life who give reason and purpose to my days – thank you. To friends and acquaintances – thank you. To anyone who may happen upon these words – thank you. No matter how you celebrate, may your holiday season bring hope to your own lives – and may each new candle lit bring fresh light to your soul. Merry Christmas!