How do you balance
all that you do, and need to do, with all that you feel at this time of year?
I don't know why Christmas is such an emotional time for me. I have spent the better part of the last two days holding back tears; and not very successfully, I might add. It is for us, as with most families, utterly busy now. We have yet to put the studio back together from the sale, and only just managed to get the tree and the lights up last night. I think if it hadn't been for the prospect of hosting our first advent here tonight, we might still have an undecorated tree under our drippy eve on the side of the house where it has been all week.
Tessa is struggling under a weight. She has cried almost every day about her hamster dying. "I wish Nibbles would just die again up in heaven so that he could come back to me." she said so poignantly. This, in tandem with her belly pain has led to us sitting together for long, sad spells; her weeping, me consoling. I know how to help a mama in labor, but this has been much different. Her pain and sadness have no happy ending waiting. I hear myself saying, "I am so sorry, sweetheart," again and again.
Adam is struggling as well. Our Toby dog began having accidents in the house over the last week or so. Last night he suddenly began falling down and staggering, unable to stay on his feet. I called the sweet folks who gave him to us to ask advice, only to learn that his sister died just last week with the exact same symptoms. When I got off the phone, I told Adam. He is already heart broken. Toby is really his dog.
How do you lose your first dog?
I guess I am struggling a little, too. Yesterday we went to our church Christmas party. It was a lovely breakfast and service project where we decorated tiny table-top trees and delivered them to a nearby nursing home. Though I was in charge of the caroling, I dragged my feet. I knew what awaited us there. We walked what I would call "a hall of last and forgotten souls". We sang to the residents as we came and went from their rooms. Most of them were women, alone in a tiny space with a few scant possessions. One rocked a baby doll in her arms and lovingly gazed into it's face with a sweet smile, as though the baby smiled back. One met my gaze and instantly her eyes filled with tears. Another stared intensely into my eyes, but only met my smile with a blank and utterly vacant and yet penetrating stare. Perhaps the hardest was Edna, a lovely and proper lady, her hair in meticulous order, her outfit impeccable right down to her pearl necklace and matching earrings. Her room was an encapsulation of what I imagine her house might have been; orderly photos, dainty curios, and carefully placed books and silk flower arrangements. We sang to her, and tears rushed into her eyes, followed immeadiatly by my own.
"I'm sorry," she blushed, "I just get like this these days."
"Me too!" I sincerely replied. I felt like her in that moment - for what ever both our reasons were for our tears, I felt so connected to her. She could be me; I could be her. I wanted to scoop her up and take her out of there. It seems a tragic way to spend the end of a rich lifetime on earth.
Today in church we talked about what gives us the strength to get through our trials. We talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the understanding that not one of us is alone in our grief and heartache. We are understood by One who has endured all manner of pain and sorrow. A sister leaned over to me and whispered, "That's what get's me through my trials - just realizing that I am not the first person that has ever felt this way."
I know what she means.
Tonight we hosted our first Advent. It is a family tradition in many cultures that we have been invited to share these past few years with Kathy and Bishop. We lit candles and spread out goodies, and I read Christmas stories about charity and love and sharing of our blessings with those in need. Again, I wept and could barely get through the sweet passages and scriptures.
In one story, a man waits all day for a promised visit from the Lord. Throughout that day he is visited by many a stranger in need. He warms, feeds and fills their needs one by one, with an ever watchful eye on the window so as not to miss the Lord when he passed by. When night comes, he is sad that the Lord had never come, when one by one each stranger he had faithfully administered to appeared before him and said, "Have you not seen me?"
"For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." ~Matthew 25
Our burden is never ours to carry alone.
He is there.
We can reach out to our Savior as we touch the lives and fill the needs of others.
As we lighten the burdens of others, our burdens will be made light.
May the weight that we each carry feel lighter
in the knowlege of His Love for us,
is my prayer for you this Christmas week.
Tessa-loo waits to her turn to put the star on the tree.
Her turn won't come again till she's nearly 12.
Up, Up and on.
The goodies, cocoa, and herb tea...
and the Jensens.
A very rare sighting indeed... three teenagers singing carrols.
In keeping with Kathy's tradition of singing
Silent Night in German at the end of the night,
Guy taught it to us in Finnish.
We had to bribe Ethan to join us. He said he would only come if there was beef jerky. So I made sure there was. But that wasn't his only reward for coming... he snagged baby Ryan from Kathy and settled his fussing. He told me later that if he comes next week, Kathy promises beef jerky and all the Ryan-time Ethan wants.
Good deal for us all!