Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Blessings

Now that the stockings have been unstuffed and are no longer hanging with care, but rather strewn throughout the house haphazardly; and children are somewhat nestled - at least the older ones - while the younger ones are having fun with their newfound toys, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the blessings we've experienced this Christmas.

First, we are still in our home. We are patiently waiting the bank's decision on the short sale offer and really in no hurry to move. We expect that they will make a decision once the holidays are over and they realize that it has now been over a year since they have received any type of payment from us. It's not that we don't want to hold to our obligation, but the reality is we never should have been approved for the original loan and we are in no position to even afford the payments of a loan modification. But the blessing is that we were able to have Christmas in a warm, comfortable home that is large enough to hold our family when we are altogether.

This brings me to our next blessing. Once again, we have all the children together in our home. Alyx even spent the night and we will be taking a family portrait later this afternoon. The spirit in the home is peaceful, which is a change from a couple of years ago when Alyx was always here during the court-appointed parenting time but was resentful and moody. While I always loved her, I admit I did not enjoy having her in the house with that attitude most times. Her attitude now is more in tune with our whole family - very laidback.

That attitude is what I consider my third blessing. As much as I love the holidays, I really do not get into the whole decorating thing. I love the decorating, actually, it is the un-decorating that I dislike. The tree is now pretty dry and I am ready to remove the few ornaments that made their way onto the tree and toss the tree out into the woodpile. I love that my children are willing to toss the ornaments onto the tree in a very unorganized way. They enjoy the decorating and do not need to have me being anal about the positioning of each ornament or deciding which ones should be allowed on the tree and which ones are too gaudy to be displayed. And I admit to having a few of those ornaments. But those are blessings as well as they reflect my childhood Christmases and traditions we have carried forward.

I am grateful for food. And I am grateful that my family does not expect any special feast or spread. This is a carry over from my own family where mom always had too much food and candy and we were allowed to graze throughout the day without any formal sit-down dinner. We have plenty of food and the children can graze at will without expecting me to jump through any hoops to make food, especially since I really don't cook anyway.

Another blessing is our ward family. We struggled to fit in and still don't, but as I have come to know individuals, I am realizing that there really isn't a place to fit in. People are just people and often what we see in appearance has little relevance to who the people are on the inside. As I have had the opportunity to get to know many on a more personal and individual basis, I realize that I fit in much more than I thought I could and I don't have to do anything special to be accepted. Now, granted, that means that there are some people who just don't get me and we will never be friends, but I am finding that those people are becoming fewer and fewer as time goes by.

We were blessed by being visited early in the season by the single sisters of the ward. They chose to be Santas to our family and brought presents and goodies. They sang carols to us and forgave the intrusions of unexpected visitors relating to my scouting position as Popcorn Kernel.

I was particularly blessed this year by being able to work part time. In addition to the extra income, I have made some wonderful friends and strengthened other relationships. One lady in particular has become dear to my heart. She is a single woman who desires marriage and companionship but is such a strong personality in her own right. She ended up with an extra ticket to the performance of The Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean and invited me to come along. What a blessing. I was excited to get dressed up a bit and to enjoy some away from work, kids, home time. The performance was good. I wasn't too sure at first how much I was really enjoying it. I love music and have always liked McLean's music in particular. The songs were good, but I just wasn't real sure about the whole story line. During the second act I found myself wanting the time to be done so I could just get back home. In retrospect, I realize that even though I wanted the time away, there were still many things going on at home and my mind was still engaged at home and unable to fully experience the performance. It really wasn't until the end when Michael came back out on stage and talked to the audience that I really started feeling the spirit of what was intended. This portion actually prolonged the away time, but it was when I really was able to put off the naggings of the mind and understand the message of the performance.

And that brings me to my final blessing - not that I don't have many more that I could name, but this one is big. It is the blessing of knowing the Savior, Jesus Christ. Yes, I know that He wasn't really born in the cold of December, but in the early months of spring. But this is the season we celebrate His birth most fully. And while most of us know the traditional story of who was there at this blessed time, His existence touched the lives of far more than those who were physically there to celebrate His birth and participate in His life. Because I know Him, He inspires me to be better, to strive harder, to live more fully following His example.

Merry Christmas to all and may the miracle of Jesus touch your life and lead you to be a better you.

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