I must admit, I was kind of dreading this Christmas. It was the first Christmas without two people I loved with all my heart, my Dad, and my Aunt Margaret. Thoughts of both of them filled my mind the days before Christmas - memories, good times, happy times, and the only thing that made those memories even brighter, was knowing that this Christmas they would both be together with their loved ones in heaven - in a much better place than here on earth.
Also on my mind were two family members who are battling cancer this Christmas, and one very dear friend who continues to fight cancer with all her might.
And then my own family were ever present on my mind, in particular my relationships with my siblings. Profound sadness hits me like a wall when I think of Christmas past with my siblings, and Christmas present with them. There is no Christmas present with two of them, and it is something that I just can't seem to get past. It's not what I want, but I alone cannot fix it, so I have to accept it for what it is.
Yes, I was certainly dreading Christmas!
But then things began to change for me. Off we went to attend our little church's Christmas eve service in the morning. Gary preached, and I played the last of my Christmas services. My eyes watered, and my lips quivered while I played and tried to sing the first verse of Silent Night, but then something happened. I felt myself calm down, my eyes dried, and I began to enjoy the words of the song - and all of a sudden I felt happy!
Later that afternoon, Gary was on Face book, and announced that the Church we attended in Winnipeg when we lived there, was on a live feed with their Family Christmas eve service, so we sat and watched people we knew, in a place we knew and loved, and it was wonderful.
And then it was 10:30, we tuned in again - this time for the late service. The camera was right in the choir loft - I felt like I was sitting in my old spot. There was Annie, Gail, Maggie, Gerry, Anne, Malcolm, Shirley, Richard, Al, Don, Ted... all my old choir family - singing so beautifully like they always did - I felt so close, like I could poke them and they would jump!
We watched to the end... a beautiful Christmas Eve service, I heard the words, I heard the voices I knew so well, I heard the Cassavant...
I went to bed feeling so happy!
Christmas morning was pretty minimal. We had breakfast, I dusted - yes I did, and then I headed into the bathroom to take a bath.
While I was in there the phone rang - it was Jon - and he had something he wanted to tell us!
Well you know what it's like in a perfect family - timing is often, not so perfect. With the aid of speaker phone, and while still in the bathtub, I learned that our son Jon, and his girlfriend, Sasha had just gotten engaged!
It was the best Christmas gift ever! Christmas had arrived - a new beginning for our family, a chance to welcome another family into our lives, into our hearts.
It made me think of the Christmas story - the "Real Christmas Story", and the new beginning that happened on that Christmas day so long ago.
In the end, it was a great Christmas Day, I suddenly felt ashamed that I had been dreading it before it came.
I am so looking forward to the new beginnings started Christmas 2017. God willing, they will follow us for many many years to come.