Saturday, December 17, 2005
Christmases to Remember
All Christmases have memories attached. Whether it is the one when you were sixteen and all you got were bicycle parts even though you wanted a CAR (true story) or the time you dive across the desert squashed in the back of a Buick with two of your sisters and a tired father and turtle happy mother up front (unfortunately, another true story).
There are some you will remember because of sheer joy. Like the first Christmas you spend as husband and wife. Perhaps it is the one with your baby’s first Christmas.
Then there is the Christmas spent with nine foster children, some of whom have never had much kindness let alone presents given to them. We (Dave, Keegan, Evan, and I) spent about four Christmases like this.
Of course there are Christmases that you just have to laugh for the sheer joy of having two of the silliest boys on Earth with you.
Yet, the one Christmas that will always sit in the forefront of my memory is the Christmas I spent without my family. The one where I was called up, along with a lot of other mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons, to be a Peacekeeper in the Bosnia crisis: Operation Joint Guard.
Dave and I had been married seven years and our son, Keegan, had only just turned two. I would be gone for nine months. Part of those nine months was during Christmas. It could have been awful.
But it wasn’t.
Lonely? Yes. Yet through my pain, I was able to express love. I found a rich joy that Christmas.
Our Battalion was blessed with opportunities to serve others. We were stationed in Taszár, Hungary a few hours from the Croatian border and since it was 1997 and the war was pretty much over, there was much poverty and way too many orphans. Being a Transportation Battalion who coordinated operations, we had access to many things that other soldiers did not. Our Chaplain set up visits to orphanages and we visited many kids. We also had many donations/presents that people from all over gave for the orphans. One day we spent the entire workday wrapping those presents, getting them into and labeling the boxes for boys/girls and age groups. We delivered some of them in person. From mattresses to bikes. One little girl I especially remember received a Barbie doll and cried. She had never had a doll before. I think that was the best Christmas moment I’ve ever had. Maybe because it was the closest I came to the true meaning of Christmas. Giving and loving others just as God loved us so much that he sent His Son.
Happy Birthday Jesus. I pray I can always have Your giving spirit all year round.
So, tell me. What is the best Christmas/Chanukah experience you have ever had?