>> Thursday, December 10, 2015
The absence of my beloved husband, John, has forever changed Christmas for me. Even though the Christmas season was rather low-key for us, we did enjoy it in various ways. Some years we drove to Boise to spend it with grandchildren. Sometimes we attended a festive Christmas concert. Shopping was never a highlight. Several years ago we determined we would plan a special trip for the two of us as our Christmas present to each other, as neither of us enjoyed shopping.
He was the one who hauled the containers of decorations from the garage. I had to this year. Each year he hung the wreath. I had to this year. I decided to simplify. So I gave away my Christmas village. My decorations are simple, highlighting manger scenes.
That works for me.
The second reason Christmas is different this year is that I just returned from a trip to the Holy Land…the place the Christmas carols sing about. When “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” comes on the radio, I am immediately transported to that city where I walked the streets and purchased a hand carved manger scene made out of olive wood. When the song talks of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, I remember sitting on a rock in the shepherd’s field. “Away in a Manger” has new meaning after seeing the kind of stable and manger it is talking about.
The timing of that trip was a great Christmas present to me. Tears began streaming down my face as I typed those words. I had a sudden realization. Due to some life insurance money, John gave me one last trip. He went with me in my heart and in my carryon. I took the party favor from his graduation party to the Sea of Galilee and spent 30 minutes there on the shore with him, then placed him in some rocks beneath a tree and left him there.
The Sea of Galilee will never be the same for me.
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” Matthew 5:4 (MSG)