Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Plans for Christmas: Lessons I'm Learning

(By the way, if you read my blog via RSS or Facebook, at some point, check out the actual website: I did one of those wordle images for my book. It may not be your personal cup of tea, but I thought it was cute :) )

Today is exactly one week from Christmas. I never imagined that I'd make it to the 18th of December and still not know how I'd be spending the holidays. Yet here I am, and enjoying it so much. I'm learning a lot from living without panicking over the calendar, possibly for the first time in my life. While I know others would like me to make up my mind, I still have a whole week, and in God-time, that's like 7000 years! It's been faith-building to trust that when the time comes to take the next step, I'll know that it's time. And right now I'm pretty sure it's not time.

But, more than anything, it's been one of the most affirming experiences I've ever had. With my lifestyle, I can often fall into a mire of loneliness, feeling like no one really cares about me. But this Christmas season, I find myself wondering what I did to be the beneficiary of so much love!

A few years ago, when I spent Christmas with my parents in England, they signed up to help transport people to and from their church's Christmas dinner. Every year the church prepares a nice Christmas banquet and invites anyone from the community who doesn't have anyone else with whom to spend the holiday - mainly elderly retired people whose children aren't nearby or who - gasp - don't care. Some of those who attend the dinner, being accustomed to living a life of solitude in their homes, are apparently overwhelmed at the thought of spending the afternoon with a big group of people. Other people are touched to the core that they don't have to spend Christmas alone. I suspect most of the people who attend that Christmas dinner waffle between both emotions.

I kind of figured that if I couldn't make Christmas plans in time to get to my holiday destination, I'd be lucky to be invited to a group dinner. But instead, I have received almost an invitation a day for the past two weeks! At least four countries and seven cities are represented in the invitations - though I'm trying not to keep count, because each one is special. (Seriously, I'm not naming names in my blog, but if you're reading this and you are one of the people who has made a point of saying I'd be welcome to join you over the holidays, I guarantee that my heart is warming at the thought of you right now! I really enjoy your company, and it would (will? who knows) be a joy to spend the holiday with you.)

What did I do to deserve such a supportive collection of family and friends? Instead of brainstorming ways to show the same kindness to others (I do do that, and will do that more), I just want to express my deep gratitude to God right now.

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