I was thinking the other day, Sunday, to be precise, how different this Christmas season is from last year's. I was asked by my pastor to give a few short comments about what Christmas meant to me. Let me tell you what I told my church family.
I'm not a big fan of Christmas. I've never enjoyed all of the hullabaloo and craziness that comes with the season. I'm the rare female that doesn't enjoy shopping and crowds of people (unless I'm shoe shopping). But through the years, being a part of Aaron's family, I've learned to enjoy the season and the giving and receiving of gifts. One of my Sunday school students mentioned how we not only have to be cheerful givers, but also cheerful receivers. That is something that I've had to learn, receiving cheerfully.
Last Thanksgiving, we found out that my grandfather, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the summer, had cancer. And it wasn't good, it wasn't possible to treat it beyond pain management. My grandparents live(d) in Georgia, and I in Ohio. It's a 6 hour drive, which isn't bad. I'm used to doing it about once a month, or once every other month. But during last year's holiday season, I went to Georgia on an average of every other weekend. My mother was taking care of things, along with my grandma. It wasn't easy on either one of them.
Last year, I went down at the beginning of my Christmas break. Things were that bad. Grandpa was convinced that he was going to die on Christmas Eve. He didn't, he actually held on til January 24th. As Christmas Eve drew closer, I fretted about what to do, whether to leave Georgia and go back to Ohio for Christmas, or to stay, just in case Grandpa did die that weekend.
Aaron gave me the best present of all last Christmas. He told me that if I needed to stay in Georgia to be with my grandpa and my family, then that was ok. He and Ethan could come to Georgia, or we could celebrate Christmas later. He gave so selflessly, and I had to receive (not cheerfully) gracefully and gratefully. He didn't put any pressure on me to make the decision to come home to him and Ethan.
In the end, I rode up to Ohio with my step dad and sister and spent Christmas with Aaron and Ethan. And it was a good choice, though a hard one.
This year for the first time ever, I'm having Christmas dinner at my house. I'll be surrounded by family and friends, and so grateful for it. But it's also the first year in I don't know how many that I won't be buying chocoate covered cherries for my grandpa for Christmas.
I am so blessed to have the family and friends that I have. And that's the best Christmas gift I have ever recieved, cheerfully.