It is a good thing we didn’t get the dog. The little Pomeranian at the pet shop, visited on a whim. I called him “Fuzz Ball” (never name something you are trying to remain unattached to). Fuzz Ball was a puff of brown and black fur with two little black eyes and a happy little kiss that said “Please take me!!” Oh man. He was cute. Luckily (or unluckily) we did not take Fuzz home. Nope. And it is a good thing. He may have been neglected this month as much as my blog postings, or my house, or my children for that matter. Now that the Christmas rush is over, I can breath and reflect. Long overdue, I must say this account of my thoughts (who has time to think before Christmas?) is running deep and fast, like the cold mountain creek we dipped our feet into last summer.
At a recent gathering of amazingly faithful women, a friend brought a deliciously different cranberry salsa that was really well-liked by all. The deep red of the cranberries and the bright green cilantro were a festive reminder of the season in appearance, but the savory, sweet and zesty flavors really made an impression in taste. This year’s Christmas was like that. There were a remarkable contrast of blessings and graces with sufferings and sorrows. Some bitter, some sweet and all of them are making a lasting impression on me. There were mistakes made at my own careless hands, yet also there were what I consider to be amazing acts of charity from those closest to me, who had the least reasons to be giving (consider the poor widow in the gospel who gives her last two coins to the offering).
Having just have given a talk at a women’s reflection on the essence of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas” with the newly entitled them “12 Ideas of Advent”, I cannot help but consider my experience of Christmas in this same skew. Learning the true meaning of “The 12 days of Christmas”, I have a new fondness for this traditional song. In order to teach the faith during times of persecution, the 12 Days of Christmas was used to teach the faith through its symbolism. For example;
Partridge in a Pear Tree=One True Love; Jesus
Two Turtle Doves=The two books of the bible; Old Testament and New Testament
Three French Hens=The three main virtues; Faith, Hope and Love
Four Calling Birds=The Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Five Golden Rings=The Pentatuch; first five books of the Bible
You get the idea! Now our favorite twist and now a family tradition, is to make up our own version (usually over dinner) where we get to say what our “True Love” gave to us, and then repeat all of the other things on our “wish list” and then add another as we rotate around the table. So for instance, by the time Cirque gets her turn, she may have a rendition to repeat that is something like this “One the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four candy canes (she’s a sweet tooth), three star wars ships (JD), two Jane Austin Movies (that would be mine) and a new paintball kit with goggles! (LB)” Then it would be on to Dad or back to LB, depending on who made it to the dinner table that night. Sometimes I get helpful wish ideas from this game as well (and maybe give a few…hmmmm).
So with some simple explanation given with each below, I give you The 12 Blessings of This Christmas.
1 Father of six in his own home (instead of the hospital, where he nearly lost his life.)
2 Surprise mass visits (maybe some Catholics coming home? I pray….)
3 People watching their house burn down (because God saved them from the fire. At least one of these beautiful souls went ahead on to Midnight mass, despite poor health, and the shock of just having lost all of her belongings).
4 Parents giving a joyful Christmas despite pain of different kinds
5 “Golden Rules” (treat others as you would like to be treated)
6 Friends a-praying (while out at dinner)
7 Movie-seers (one of which was miraculously healed this year from a heart tumor)
8 Cookie makers (giving donations for the CORE Center, in Sunbury, Ohio…check it out! www.thecorecenter.org/ )
9 Blog peekers (you die-hards, thanks for not giving up!)
10 Years after a family death, a desert flower blooms again and provides a sign of great hope for a soul still mourning
11 Hours of sleep (IN A ROW!!)
12 Years old, and says “Mom, we have the most awesome family. I don’t even care about presents.” (Aww, LB!)
May God pour His abundant grace upon us all this season, that we remember a simple birth in all its humility, and count our blessings instead of our mishaps.