Thursday, December 25, 2008

The many faces of Christmas

I hope you had a good Christmas Day. Ours has been very quiet. All three of us are in some stage of cold symptoms. I slept in much later than originally planned but we were able to have Christmas dinner by mid-afternoon. The cook (that being me) laid down for a short nap after dinner and ended up sleeping for three hours. Blame the cold medicine. :)

Thanks to the generosity of others, we had our traditional Christmas dinner. I love the menu of ham, creamy cheese potatoes, broccoli casserole, Birds Eye peas and baby onions, and pumpkin pie. I can assemble the potatoes and casserole as the ham cooks, pop them in the oven when the ham is "resting", and make certain all the dishes are washed and in the drainer before placing food on the dining table. I have used this menu so many times, there are few surprises... except the time my Pyrex dish blew up in the oven when adding water...

We watched Kung Fu Panda in the early evening and then found Casablanca on TV (my favorite movie). After that... tea and a good book.

Perhaps the actual Day was not too festive but given all the sneezing and coughing going on in our household, it was just "what the doctor ordered". I was thinking this morning about the previous post I wrote and how Christmas Day arrives regardless of circumstances (in this case, three sick people).

It reminded me of the title given a spaghetti western starring Clint Eastwood (years ago) called The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. We can experience all three at Christmas.

There is a lot of good during this season, which for me begins with anticipation as the world becomes an autumnal glorious place with the reds and golds surrounding my home and the gentle breezes turn cooler each week. I so enjoy the sights and smells of autumn which flow into Thanksgiving's pumpkins and turkeys, cinnamon and sage.

After that the world becomes a place of glitter and sparkle, colored lights and scented candles. There is good food and fellowship for many and the excitement of whispered secrets among all the paper and ribbons.

There is also the "bad" that can come each year. Nothing terrible mind you but those little annoyances one wishes didn't happen during the Holiday season... like my cold that doesn't want to go away, or the worst weather in December that I can remember in years (and years). It can be missing someone terribly but knowing they are alive and well... just far away (in this country or stationed in the military elsewhere).

Sometimes the bad can come from strained relationships and words spoken during our celebrations. No matter how we try to get along in this season of Peace... tension can follow... especially in families and large groups of people.

Then there is the "ugly"... what I think of as the "snake in the garden"... that heart wrenching trial we live with all year. Most of the time all is beautiful but one is aware there is the presence of the snake which may unexpectedly appear. For some it is the presence of substance abuse, others the desertion of a spouse or parent, still others look at the empty place at the table which can never be filled again this side of Eternity.

I know of those who must continue through chemo at this Season, not knowing what the results will be. For some it is living with one who suffers emotional or mental illness. For they can go through the Holidays just fine or... without warning... have a flare up.

There are many, many people this year with job losses and not knowing what the future brings. One thing I do know, God supplies our needs... honest... and even a few wants here and there. :)

I recently purchased another creche at Goodwill for just a few dollars. It is actually quite a nice creche but it was cheap because it was missing one piece... the baby Jesus. I will be on the lookout for a Babe throughout the year.

However, it made me think of Christmas past and present. How much like the celebrations held in many cities today... everything else is there about the Season but the Babe is missing. I have the creche all set up on a table where my old one used to sit. It is there without the Baby Jesus, reminding me not to let Him go missing in my own life.

Never fear the bad... or the ugly... that comes with the Season. For that is the very "stuff" that we can turn over to Him Who Created Us to make into something special. Only He can take the bad and the ugly in life and present it back to us as gold refined.

Picture: Christmas Peace on Earth by Billy Jacobs;


Sue said...


Once again, a beautiful post. Glad to hear you were able to enjoy Christmas.

Take care. I will email you later.

She'sSewPretty said...

I hope that by the time you read this, that you are feeling better. It sounds like you had a peaceful and meaningful Christmas! I've enjoyed reading your blog so much this year. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and words with us!

freetobeme - Anita said...

I feel bad, your family being sick. I'm glad you had a nice dinner. God bless...

DebD said...

lovely thoughts, Brenda. I hope you are all feeling better soon.

Peggy Lorenz said...

Thank you for this post! I posted earlier about my husband, age 47, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It has spread somewhat, so he is looking at surgery, hormone treatment, radiation, and chemotherapy in the months ahead. But God is truly turning it to gold. Our family is becoming much closer through this, and we've had such an outpouring of love and support from our friends, families, and church family. God can truly "make all things work together for good". We are blessed, no matter what happens.

Wanita said...

It sounds like you had a lovely Christmas despite everyone having colds. I hope you are all soon feeling much better.

Your post is excellent. How true that the babe is often left out of Christmas. But, as you said, may we not let Him go missing in our lives.


Heather said...

Our Christmas was quiet but meaningful - and rather restful as well! I do hope you are on the mend and will be all over your colds soon! All those germs have got to be quite tiring! I love your Christmas day menu - quite efficient and tasty! We enjoyed a bit of our 16 pound turkey - fresh local free range organic and delicious and it didn't cost anything!!! It was our 'replacement' turkey for the one that wasn't nice at Thanksgiving!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

A lovely message, Brenda. Thank you. I'm thinking of a friend who is estranged from her daughter and told me how difficult it is at Christmas because there is such a cultural pressure to have everything, especially every relationship, be perfect. Well, of course it is not going to be perfect, here on earth. And if it seems so for a second, it will change right away! But despite our lack of perfections, we had a blessed Christmas, even missing Paul. And I think that you all did too. Now just rest and heal!

Anonymous said...

Brenda, check your hotmail e-mail from me.

Glad to hear you were able to enjoy Christmas with your family.
Hope you're all feeling better soon.

Carol from

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog. I hope you are feeling better now (being sick during holidays are no fun...I know from past) Thank you for all that you thoughtfully share with us.
BB from Ga.