As some of you might remember this past November we lost my mother-in-law and there was no doubt that my wife was heart broken. So too was I because Joyce was like a mother to me as well. She had a great life, and lived until 82, and died just days after her birthday. It was a sad time for this family, but we all know and understand that for each of us, one day we pass from this life to the arms of Jesus where there is nothing but joy and peace.
As Christmas approached I was quite incistant that we had to continue a long tradition of family get togeathers. These functions keep families togeather, close, and involved. I think is most important that each year some major calendar event is posted as Family Reunion. We scheduled such an event for just before Christmas.
We had three events set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the week prior to Christmas. During the latter part of the week were were all hearing about the major storm gathering steam out West. But figured it would blow by. We had no idea what was in store for us. Friday arrived and my wifes Secret Pal event was canceled because of slippery weather. ice and snow was gathering, and threatened us with dangerous conditions. Saturday came and we were able to sneak in the Family reunion, but even that event was shut down earlier than expected because the roads were getting iced over. Even worse than the night before. The next day, Sunday December 2nd was not good at all and again a special church event was canceled because of serious weather conditions. While we still went about our business, we had no idea what was in store for us.
Yeah, those poor folks out there in Oklahoma, and Texas were having it bad. Conditions were worse than bad. they were out right dangerous. and by Monday we were being warned that Michigan was in for it. And sure enough it hit. We found ourselves out of power, and without heat. Our food for Christmas was surely going to spoil. things did not look good. I had to work, and just could not let my wife sit it out at home without lights and power. I called My sister-in-law who had no problem saying get her over here. we got lights. Convienced Linda would be safe, I went to work. and was hoping to get back early that morning. To no avail, because just prior to quitting time we had a problem and I was held over.
Well with no lights, no heat, and a projection that restoration would take up a couple of days after Christmas, it looked as if all were lost. What a lousy way to end the year I thought. No Ham, Yams, no Cake, Mince Meat pie, Nothing, natta. I chukeled to a friend, “Brings a whole meaning to the phrase…”Due to technical difficulties beyond our control…..Christmas has been canceled”.
All across the Mid west it was the same. Flights held, or out right canceled. People stranded. Other left in the cold. Accidents, death, Quite the mess it was.
Then, some remarkable things started to happen. I realized that despite all the problems spinning out of control around me, we were safe and sound at my sister-in-laws house. We had food and shelter, and among our immediate family it was her house. The ol’ homestead, where 23 years ago we gathered to prepare for my wedding to take place just up the street at my wife’s church. An avid Face Book reader, I discovered that a friend of mine, a former co-worker had just lost her neice, and friends and family had stepped in to make double sure she could get to her sisters side. A young man reported on FB that his infant child was on a ventilator, and things were not looking good. A co-worker at my job was called away from work in the wee hours of the morning to get to Hospice as soon as he could….His mother was dying. All around me were these real life events occurring, and real honest, caring people were stepping up, and stepping out to make sure someone else’s needs were met, before theirs. Warming Centers were opening up on Christmas Eve and Christmas day to get people out of the cold, and something to eat and drink. All around me it seemed people were dropping whatever it was they had planned for the needs of someone else in real trouble.
Our Board of Water and Light was working around the clock 24 four 7 to get electricity restored. Contract help was being brought into Michigan from Ohio, Indiana, and other states to get Michigan back on her feet. More people, dropping away from their holiday, to help some folks in real serious trouble, with real serious needs.
It was then that I realized that despite all the problems I had, all the issues I faced, all the tragedy I had had in the past month, was nothing compared to what others were dealing with at this moment in time. No matter how bad it seems, in fact, no matter how bad it gets, no matter how horrifc the event, there is always someone, somewhere with problems, and issues that surpass mine by a country mile.
I wrote to some of my FB friends that as far as I was concerned Christmas 2013 ment more to me than many Christmas’es of the past. Because all around me the true sprit of Christianity was spreading like a rash. People stepping out helping others. Joining hands and families coming together, some not by choice, like never before. Taking care of each other, and real love around to those they love as well as those in need.
I am sure that our Jesus looked down upon his world on Christmas Eve and said to his Father, Look, see what I mean? Look at the world we have created. Joining togeather, we were able to do far more than celebrate Christmas, and the birth of the Christ Child. We displayed to a hurting, violent world what it ment to spread love, compassion, and to reach out and care for one another.
And there you have it dear reader. The true meaning of Christmas.
That’s why I say without reservation, that Christmas 2013 means so much to me. I think it means a lot to many others as well.