Let me start by saying Merry Christmas!!! Lots going on in the Howe household (as usual). Just some quick updates, I am 5 moths post surgery, and doing fantastic!!! Minor, very minor symptoms, that the surgeon is almost certain will continue to get better. He is very pleased with the results, and even commented that I may just be his best work! I also started a new job. Still with the dialysis clinic, but now I work in the home dialysis program. I LOVE it. No more weekends, a normal schedule, and best of all, I love what I do. Home dialysis has a special place in my heart because it gave my father so much freedom and control over his life. I think about him often, and hope he is proud of my work. I also enrolled in college. I am completing my Bachelor's in Ministry at Antioch School. Super excited, very challenged, and looking forward to accomplishing this. Kids are all great, and on my other blog, I am working on a "best of" post, which will be some of the best, funniest, and most poignant situations with my kids. They are fantastic!
I could finish up this post talking about the tragedy that happened on December 14th, in Newton, CT, but that's for another time. It has effected all of us so deeply, so we are just leaning on God for understanding. I am confident that on December 22nd, we will wake up, as usual, so I don't see the need for an end of the world post. Instead, I figured I would write about this Christmas. I have to admit, I was truly looking forward to this holiday season. Financially, we are in good shape, physically I feel the best I have in 4 years, and spiritually, our faith as a family, and as individuals in in a really good place. With that said, now here's a surprise-I developed a very bad attitude about this Christmas. Worry about how long Chiari will let me feel good is always there. Normal, everyday struggles with the kids about attitude, cooperation, not being so selfish, and picking up after themselves has worn my wife and I down. The hustle and bustle of this time of year has got us exhausted. The shootings recently, my son's first love and first heartbreak, and the huge emptiness left by not having my dad around, really has me thinking so, this is Christmas? Where's the joy, the magic, the heartfelt warmth? All the decorations we put up isn't helping. All the Christmas movies and music we've been barraged with didn't do the trick either. As a matter of fact, it just reinforced the funk I was in! Nostalgia had me feeling like the best Christmases were ghosts of Christmas passed. So, this is Christmas??
Then I realized, rather suddenly, that I fell into a trap that so many of us fall into this time of year. I had trivialized Christmas! Somewhere in all of the things I mentioned above, I lost Christmas. See, for me, because of my faith, I understand that Christmas marks the birth of Jesus, but it is also about God's love for us. What we do with that love is where the magic is. That's where we find the joy, contentment, and heartfelt warmth. To help focus on that, we've been working on a few things. First, I am heading up an effort at church to take care of two families this Christmas, and it is going amazingly well. We all drew names this year at home, and we are hand making gifts for the person we drew. The kids grabbed onto this, and their gifts for each other are amazing! I am more excited to see that than anything else on Christmas morning. I am also speaking with my friend Benjamin Tubbs at our Christmas Eve service. Last night, a group of people from our church hosted a holiday party for residents at a local senior living place, and it was touching. We sang carols, played games, had coffee and desert. I looked out and saw teenagers and kids sitting with elderly people talking, laughing, getting to know each other. I saw one lady in our church spend the entire evening holding hands and consoling a resident who started the evening out crying. I don't know what about, and I don't need to know. What I do know, is that we were there to spread some light and love, and we did. God showed up, and with him came the joy, heartfelt warmth, and the magic of the season. All these ways we are serving others helped us get out of ourselves for a time.
I took the kids shopping for Emily tonight, and had a great time. Afterwards, we spent some time hanging out and learning a cool rhythm game using cups, of all things! Tomorrow is our ugly Christmas sweater day at work, and it should be great. Saturday, Emily and I are gonna finish some shopping. Sunday is Christmas with Emily's family, and the day we will drop off the gifts we collected for the families we are blessing. Monday, we will spend some time talking about God's purpose for Christmas, then have our Christmas Eve candlelight service. Then, on Christmas morning, the kids will wake up, and we'll spend time together, laughing, sitting with each other in the light of the tree, and thank God for the day. We'll cap it off with my family, and when we're home, in our jammies on Christmas night, we'll thank God for what we have, enjoy the feeling that comes along with helping others, and I think then, we will be able to say "so, THIS is Christmas!"
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, and amazing new year!