Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rebecca's Journey - 108

Dear Friends,

The tree is up! The house is decorated! We are waiting for our son, Stephen, who arrives tomorrow - our youngest and the first of our children to come home for the holidays. All the family will be together this year. That will surely be our gift to one another.

Every December I read the Christmas story again, day after day, in one translation after another. This year I have been struck by the genealogy in Matthew. We see generation after generation of men and women serving the Lord and building toward an ultimate purpose, toward the revelation of the Son of God. I couldn't help but think of the generations, small though they are, of my own family and Christmas.

When my Mother was little, after her father's death, her mother took in boarders. One Christmas season Mamma saw, in the window of the local general store, a most beautiful doll. That was all she wanted for Christmas. Her mother despaired because she could never afford it. But happily two of Momma's aunts, Daisy and Wilma, together bought the doll and gave it to Mamma for Christmas. All my childhood, Daisy Wilma's china head (for that's all that was left of her) lived in the top drawer of Mammas big chest. It was always a special moment when I could take her out and look at the beautiful Daisy Wilma.

And then I think of my Father, born in 1899, who at 17 went into the military to serve his country in World War I. I think of his Christmas, fighting for his life, in the trenches.

Then there are memories of my own childhood Christmases: making Christmas cookies with Aunt Jean, and the Christmas trees that were always in the same corner of the living room. I wonder how many years it fell over. I can remember, like it was yesterday, lying on the couch with my head on Mammas lap. The room was darkened except for the glow of the tree, "Let's stay up and look at the tree just a little longer."

The Christmas of 1950 was the year my father died. I was only five and my sister Judy 11. What a difficult Christmas that must have been for Mother. She never let us know, but she made it a wonderful Christmas for us girls even in her pain.

And then our own children! So many memories flood in! There was the year we put Susanna's new kitten in a box tied with a ribbon! When she opened the lid the cat jumped out and ran straight to the top of the Christmas tree. We should have known then that we were trouble with that cat.

Giving the wrong gift to a child! One year we gave Matt the same sweatshirt two years in a row. I had brought it back with us to the States the next summer, and then wrapped up mistakenly and gave it to him again the following year. With an expression of astonishment on his face he said, "My sweatshirt! I had wondered where it had gone." Oh I fear I have done it all. But we laughed a lot and enjoyed being together and sharing in the wonderful birth of our Redeemer and Friend, Jesus.

I can never forget my Christmas in the ICU. I lay with tubes everywhere, in pain and a swirl of reality. It was hard for me to not be able to do Christmas for my children and family. But oh of course, they did Christmas for me! They brought a little Christmas tree and sat with me and we sang carols and exchanged gifts together. Laura, my friend, came in one day with a very special gift that has become a life long treasure. She had been worked busily on a patchwork quilt, sending patches to hundreds of my friends. Each one wrote a beautiful word and expression of hope. Front and back were covered with the prayers and love of my friends. What an encouragement, what a faith builder! A Christmas etched in pain.

Christmases come and go. I pray that this year you will be able to create a memory for those you love. There is no greater gift we can give one another.

Paul and I want to thank you for your faithfulness and love. You have followed me on my journey, and supported me in prayer and love. Such an expression of the body of Christ as we stand together in Him.

Love, and Merry Christmas!


PS We are still working on the final editing of the manuscript of my book. The name of it is Falling into His Grace. It is a labor of love of many. Winston Churchill wrote: "Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress; and then it becomes a master; and then a tyrant."

We're at the "tyrant" stage, so it should be through soon!