Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas Y'all

It's early in the morning. As a kid I would be tossing and turning, finally asleep after staying up and excited as all get out as to what would be under the tree Christmas morning.

I remember my last 'Santa' Christmas. And the one after it. Christmas became kind of dull - sleeping in and just wrapped presents to look forward to. There weren't toys all across the floor as in previous years. My parents loved it because it saved them money - not nearly as much stuff to buy. It wasn't until I became a Christian that Christmas was able to regain some meaning.

In high school and college, I reluctantly went to church with my mom for Christmas Eve service. After it was over, we stopped at Denny's for dinner. We did this for years until the Denny's closed in Nashville. Then my mom got sick and passed away. Last year, on our way home, my brother and I thought about finding a Steak and Shake or something like that but opted not to. We just went home.

Holidays were NEVER very peaceful at my house. There were individuals who's mission in life was to make others miserable because they were miserable. And now they are dead. As my brother said in his last email to me before heading to Iraq: "It's a shame everyone had to die for us to have a nice Thanksgiving." (Yes it's ok to find that funny. My brother and I do.)

When I re-dedicated my life in 1999, that first Christmas was very special. It was also the last Christmas I had with my mom. We went to service at the school. I wish I could remember what she thought of it. The last picture I have with her was at her office's Christmas Party. It was in a box of stuff that at Elena's urging I stop long enough to actually go through.

Christmast 2002 was my nana's last Christmas. In 2003, that was the year I cooked the entire dinner save for dessert. Dad brought that.

We got into a fight over the phone because he was over an hour late. My brother and I decided to go ahead and eat. The dressing was killer. That is totally my speciality now.

We don't know how long he sat in his car in my driveway. I just happened to look out and see him there. It was extremely uncomfortable.. particularly when he fell asleep at the table after he finished eating.

That was his last Christmas.

And Eric is in Iraq. So it's my first Christmas by myself. I'll be going to dinner at Bama Girl's house. Her mom can cook.. mmm.. Eric was worried that I wouldn't find someplace to go; even over there he's more worried that I'm ok.

I told you that story to tell you this story:

So I'm up early in the morning again. Not because I'm excited and waiting in anticipation of any presents I might get. I'm up because I am thinking about my brother. I hope that he has a good Christmas in Iraq and that he's home by the next one.

I'm thinking about many of you - Nate, Miss O'Hara, Elena, Erik and Nikki, TPK, Rocky... I hope that you have a wonderful day with your friends and family.

I also wanted to take time out to actually reflect on the reason for the season. No chintzy religious Christmas Card stuff... but on what started in a manger that led to Golgotha and the Resurrection. I don't know about other churches but mine serves Communion on Christmas Eve. Pastor Pete spoke tonight that it doesn't do much good to reflect on Jesus' birith if you don't also consider his death. Without his ministry, death and resurrection, his birth doesn't have that much significance.

All of the lawsuits and coverage of offended people about Christmas doesn't really suprise me.

Just as 2000+ years ago - there still isn't much room for Jesus in the inn or in the hearts of men.

Tonight, ok this morning, I want to open myself up to Him. To remind myself of His love, His lessons and teachings, His sacrifice for all people.

Merry Christmas, everyone.