I'm back in Norman after a very nice Christmas weekend with family in Texas. Thanks to all who joined along in singing (and playing) songs of the season! And oh the food and smiles and hugs and love. Sweet music of life -- to hear it, to share it and to praise God for it.
It was our first Christmas without Daddy physically among us on Earth. There still weren't any public tears that I was aware of, and not much discussion of our thoughts since Daddy's passing. To me, it seems people would rather not talk about it. I was aware we didn't do a family picture. No one mentioned it that I heard. I thought of it but didn't want to be the one to bring it up. I do have a sense that late August was our Christmas, and we took lots of pictures then.
As I prepared for the weekend, one of the things I tried to recall was what our mindset as a family was last year. It was after Daddy's lung surgery. As far as we knew, the surgery was a success and he was cancer-free. I think the sense was overwhelming gratitude that he had come through everything so well and that we were together for another Christmas as a family. All of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were there. I don't recall any thoughts that it might be our last Christmas together, other than just as part of our fresher reality that we won't all be here forever. And then when the 3-6 months prognosis after an inoperable liver cancer diagnosis came in last August, it still seemed hard to fathom Daddy wouldn't be here this Christmas. That was still the case for me the first week of October. But by the last week of October, it was clear that God's, and Daddy's, gift to the family would be for Daddy's suffering to end and our new reality to begin.
And for me, some of what Christmas is all about was stronger in my heart, knowing that God's gift of His son is why we don't have to fear death -- our own or those of our loved ones who put their faith in Him. Daddy was certainly in good company for his first Christmas in heaven.
Anyway, I'm still trying to find my way on when and where it is appropriate to really talk much about Daddy and honor his memory. Among ways today: Memorial donations and words on a blog.
Meanwhile, life goes on. I was grateful to attend the Christmas Eve communion and candlelight service at Whaley in Gainesville with Gene, Mom and Amy. Then Gene and I went to McKinney to spend the night and Christmas Day with Gene's sister, Mae, and her son, Michael, joined later by his significant other, her son and their hyper chihuahuas. And somehow there was still time for a Christmas night visit to see Mom and those staying at her house. And of course Monday with Mom and my siblings and their families and extended family and friends is always time to treasure that ends too soon. Grateful for memories -- and pictures!
I caroled every chance I got, including on Facebook. I enjoyed that we did sing Christmas songs -- spiritual and seasonal -- before opening presents Monday.
I don't know what I expected for this Christmas. I know it turned out good. God's presence seems more real to me than ever. I pray to live in a way that I never lose that.
Happy birthday, Jesus. Thank you, God. I pray to reflect Your love and live to Your glory.