Saturday, November 24, 2007

Spirit of Christmas


Michael was right…well mostly.

I think yesterday was my first real Thanksgiving dinner since before my step-dad Joe died in 2001. In the year or two preceding his death…Thanksgiving and Christmas were much different than early years. The large family gathering had dwindled greatly. It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas that found Joe, Gayle and me in the car looking for a restaurant to dine at. While it’s good to be with family and loved ones…there’s just something about a sandwich at a restaurant that doesn’t evoke the feelings as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home.

After Joe died…the next Thanksgiving was spent with my mom Gayle…who about seven months later would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. With the foresight of hindsight…I finally understood why she was acting so odd. What seemed unusual then…would soon become our reality over the next six years and continuing to this day.

So when the invitation came to join the Morgan family for Thanksgiving I was most grateful. I so looked forward to a regular Thanksgiving. My sister Denise and I stopped by to see Gayle in the morning before heading off our separate ways. In some respects I did feel bad that I didn’t spend the day with Gayle. In recent years…we have had a “new kind of Thanksgiving” which included me spending the afternoon with her…watching a Christmas movie and putting up her Christmas decorations. But this year…I was eager for a normal Thanksgiving Day.

This was my first time over at the Morgan’s. As I drove down the tree lined street…I knew I would fall in love with the house. A house with old wooden floors and antiques…and pictures of ancestors hanging on the walls. Let’s just say…I could spend the afternoon looking about at all the treasures. From hearing stories of the tree planted in the backyard almost 50 years when Daniel was 2 years old…to the story of great grandfather who lived during the Civil War…I was enchanted as I beheld his picture and heard the wind blowing the leaves of the tree planted so long ago.

A meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce was topped off by a slice of yummy pumpkin pie. An afternoon walk seemed just right as I looked up at the trees that lined the street and was regaled with stories of what it was like to grow up in the neighborhood.

It’s odd because just a couple of miles away…I spent my sixth grade year…sharing an apartment with my mom. She was in nursing schooling following the death of my dad. I was what would be termed a “latch key kid”. It made me wonder…did we ever pass one another at the store or meet each other all those years ago?

Just as I was thinking I was being obnoxious for staying so late…I planned to bow out at half time during the big USC vs. Arizona State ball game. But that plan was quickly laid to rest as we chatted about movies. Jerry and Louise told me about one of their favorite movies “Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines”. Half time came…and on went the movie. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The movie was made in 1965 long before ethnic humor was a no, no. I found myself quite smitten with Stuart Whitman…and looked forward to his movie scenes.

So after a wonderful day like that…how could I be downcast, tearful and feel devoid of the Christmas spirit? Let’s just say…I’m wrestling with God again. This time over His timing and trying to trust His good and perfect plan for me. I found myself…walking by sight…not faith as His word commands.

This morning I was greeted with an email from Mike Paddison as we exchanged post Thanksgiving greetings. Mike reported that he and his wife Jo had a nice Thanksgiving and were getting started on putting up Christmas decorations.

I filled him in on my Thanksgiving Day…and my struggle with God. I ended by telling him…I wasn’t even sure if I would decorate for Christmas. Mike encouraged me to put on some Christmas music...and the Christmas spirit would follow.

Well Michael wasn’t far off. Following a trip to the Main Place Mall I felt ready to get out the decorations. I ran into a snafu with my new Christmas tree…which necessitated a trip to the store to make an exchange. In the car…I put my new Josh Grogan Christmas CD in the player. As I was driving home on this clear windy night…Josh was singing The Little Drummer Boy.

That song has never impressed me to any degree…so I was surprised when I was quite moved by his rendition. My mind was flooded with thoughts…on being poor and having nothing to offer my Savior. I was reminded of one the beatitudes “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

Suddenly my “sight walking faith” seemed to bear witness to my being so poor in spirit. But thank you Lord that I have the assurance of being with You in heaven in spite of my poor spirit.

Jesus…I’m sorry I keep looking with my physical eyes…and looking at my past. I haven’t been looking at my Savior who has power over sin and death. He who can bring victory over all my circumstances. Like Mary and Martha looking at dead Lazarus, I cry out “Where were you Lord? If only you had been here.”

But Jesus was about to work a miracle. Where their faith and sight walking ended…Jesus was going to perform a miracle. Oh Jesus I pray that You will work a miracle in me and my life too. I confess I am so poor in spirit. But nothing, no nothing is impossible with You!


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