Just the other day I wrote our Christmas letter and printed off a copy (before the printer decided it was hungry and ate all my paper) for Tim to proofread. He then commented that I didn't include Papa's passing. I went on to share that I wanted to keep the letter positive and focus on the "happy" things of 2009. He agreed, but then I continued to think about that. Maybe I do need to address the hard things.
Those who know me well know that fall is my favorite time of year. There's nothing like a cozy sweatshirt, a football game, and a bowl of chili, all with the love of my life that I met in the autumn. It seems though that fall is now starting to be characterized by death. In 1994 my dear Grandmother passed away in the month of October. Last year in October we lost our beloved Jerri. For some reason in 2009 news of death has occurred quite frequently. From pop stars like Michael Jackson, to football prodigies like Steve McNair and Chris Henry. We brushed death's door for a while with my mom's cancer diagnosis, and lost our precious "Papa." It seems like this fall was heavily laden with those dying. In just four weeks time our dance teacher's grandpa passed away, our pastor's wife suddenly lost her dad, and my cousin and her husband both lost their dads! While people pass all year long, those that went in the fall remind me that God is making His harvest. Some are profitable grain, others are chaff.
Shortly after Halloween, a holiday focused on death, you see Christmas things in the stores! There's lights, gifts, and baking supplies. There's something joyful to look forward to! There's more to the story than the depressing thoughts of death. That's what makes the Christmas story so special. God sent His son Jesus so that there may be life instead of death. He is the Light of the world, the most precious Gift, and there's no sweeter name than the name of Jesus. Those thoughts are are happy thoughts. Those thoughts give us hope of seeing our loved ones once again, and most importantly being with our Creator for eternity.
Holly especially is excited about the presents that are under our tree. Our gifts to her aren't even there yet. If all of us are truly honest with ourselves, we get excited about gifts too. Some gifts we just absolutely love. Others get laid aside not to be played with or used a month down the road. If you're reading this, you've been given the best Gift of all. Some have opened it and cherish it deeply. That Gift is used on a daily basis. Others have opened it. They claim to like it, but it sits in a closet collecting dust. Still more have a wrapped Gift sitting there waiting for them. I'm not sure why they don't receive it. Maybe they feel like the tag doesn't say it's for them. Maybe they're worried there's strings attached.
I guess the reason I can focus on the joyful things in a Christmas letter is because thankfully I have the joy that is found in the gift of Jesus and can look at life with an eternal perspective. Our prayer for you this Christmas is that you have that prized Gift with your name on it. If you can't find it, we'll be glad to help. It's not hard to find, have to fight a mall crowd to get, nor is it too late (yet) for special delivery. For those that have lost loved ones, know that we are praying for you by name. Hang on to the hope of Christmas. We know what it's like to especially go through that year of "firsts" and we love you all so much.