Keeping Christ in Christmas

This year has been an extraordinary year for me, and I am truly thankful to Our Lord for allowing me to be showered with His blessings.  He has worked hard at helping me to delve deeper into my being, at times to my core.

Every year, I enter into the new year with a feeling of “OK, this year is going to be different!  I’m going to get it all together, have an immaculately clean home, Adoration everyday, mass everyday, prayers and rosary everyday, which in turn will give me an increase in family time, kid time, fun time. Then I’ll be able to help anyone who is in need, and everything at home will stay together, and I just KNOW I CAN DO THIS!”

Then a funny thing happens…………life occurs, the day to day minutes of life show up in the middle of my feeling of “doing it all”, and the entire above paragraph disappears in a heartbeat…………and God appears in my favorite Psalm 119:26-27: “I told you my plans and you replied. Now give me your instructions. Make me understand what you want; for then I shall see your miracles.”

I come to a dead stop, and realize, “well, didn’t I do a great job of not asking You, Lord, what you would like me to do?  Instead I was too busy making myself, my own little god in my life, and though I truly know, without a doubt or a missed heartbeat, You…..Lord are my ALL, if I’m not thinking or I am living in the materialistic world, in a nano-second I lose the balance of my priorities, and life becomes complicated, muddy, and a heavy burden. It becomes such a heavy weight on my shoulders, I can feel it, and I do not like it!  Only with confession, am I blessed to receive that weightless feeling again, and an opening in my heart to hear You, Lord, tell me what to do.

From January of this year through May, I was continuing to recuperate from my gallbladder and foot surgery from June 2010. In May, my orthopedic doc gave me the OK for full weight bearing on my foot. Praise God!  I finally began to feel as though I could begin to work on deep cleaning the house, and get the bedrooms straightened out.  Instead, God had other plans, he allowed our dogs, Angel and Lady Pio ,to bring unwanted guests into our home………..needless to say, it has been a loooooong six months of slowly, meticulously, and tediously working my way through the home (still not finished!), it has definitely been a humbling, and exhausting lesson from God to get these uninvited visitors to leave the home. Praise God, it is now beginning to happen, along with many pleas to St. Francis of Assisi to intercede in helping to remove these uninvited visitors and go back to enjoying the fresh outdoors!

During the summer months, we started with and, at times, continue to go through pre-young adult “spreading of the wings” issues with our oldest. Which I will admit, I did not expect, and was caught off guard. It did not help that I had been sick during her teen years, which I am sure added to the extra angst we all dealt with over the summer, and in the beginning of the school year. Nonetheless, God in his infinite mercy, was there for all of us as we called out to him, he answered immediately. My now young adult daughter and I, still have times of disagreement, though we both seem to be doing our best to communicate, give space, and then discuss what happened, and to let each other know how much we truly love each other. My goal with all of my children is to be adult friends with them, to be able to enjoy life together, and have great times of love and laughter as they all become adults. Along with them learning to have emotionally loving, healthy functional relationships with their dates and future spouses, please God!

Throw in two sinus infections (one at this time, though much improved! Praise God!), the flu for 10 days from the flu vaccine (my first vaccine, and the first time of having the flu since 1990!).

The middle child starting cheerleading and not one of us having any clue they would be such a great team in competition that we would go all the way to Regionals! This was their first competition EVER and they were fantastic!  Throw in some unexpected traveling…….there’s that life thing, again!

School starts, throw in back to school nights, paperwork, more paperwork. Teacher meetings for my son. Teaching CCD for the first time since 2005. An unexpected surgery for my mother, an unexpected illness and ultimately death for my neighbor’s mother, JoAnne. The honor of being asked to do a reading at JoAnne’s funeral. Still, in the middle of it all, life moves forward.

Due to these uninvited visitors, the season of autumn, my daughter’s 18th birthday, Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays have had to be changed this year. I haven’t been able to decorate as I like, because I prefer our little uninvited friends to stay on the first floor vs. throughout the home. I am also being selfish that I do not want the dog’s friends in the decorations or to get into the attic.

This has been a sacrifice for me, I love this time of year, the decorating, the baking, the music, the praying, decorating the Christmas tree.  Every ornament that is placed on our Christmas tree represents a time in our life, and I love to reminisce with the kids as they place their individual ornaments on the tree. The kids each have their own box of ornaments, and they also enjoy looking through their ornaments and remembering why they received that particular ornament. It’s a time I enjoy and have always treasured.

Though this year, as of today, it does not look promising for the regular tree or even the baking to be successfully accomplished.  We may end up placing the ceramic tree in the window for Christmas, and that’s okay. At first, I didn’t like that idea, I wanted what we always do each year…………..which, of course, means the extra stress it brings and in the end frustration and the realization that, once again, the real reason for Christmas was missed or discovered too late.

This year, as the countdown has begun, I feel a calmness  in myself, in the house and with the kids. They do not seem to be concerned about the tree, instead, we are talking about Jesus more, hanging out more, and the household does not seem as stressed as other years.

So, I will continue moving through each day with asking God for his will to be done in my life, continue with removing the uninvited visitors, and preparing a different kind  of Christmas for my kids this year.

The different kind is probably the real kind: quiet, calm, loving, playful, and reverent. As I type today, I am now able to look back through the years and realize in my quest to make Christmas the “perfect Christmas”.  I did not give enough glory or thanksgiving to the one person who truly deserves it, Our Lord Jesus Christ, He came to us to save us, and all the lights, trees, presents, homemade baked goods will never be the right way to say “thank you”, unless it is done with pure love and charity in our hearts as we do for others vs. “because we have to”.  The thank you and love, Our Lord Jesus Christ, deserves is our presence in mass, adoration, the rosary and prayers, acts of kindness, and charity towards others.

These past few years, physically, I have been slowed down a lot, and I honestly did not like it (and, at times, still do not), along with my family. Nevertheless, it has been one of the biggest blessings in my life that God has given me. It has given me the time to reflect, spiritually grow, and realize God has many more blessings for me……….if I would just stop, take the time to ask for His will in my life, and then listen!

Merry Christmas to all, and may you be abundantly blessed by Our Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ!