Friday, December 25, 2015

A merry Christmas

I'm all mixed up with emotion today.  I went walking with my dog after today's beautiful snow storm and somehow the air cleared my head, but after coming home, it's jumbled up again.  I've thought a lot about this past year and the hard things it has brought, as well as the great things.  The first half of the year, I said goodbye to my sister.  As the year began, I held out hope that she would live, but soon I had to accept that my life would have to go on without her.  Since she passed away in May, I've been figuring out how to do that.   I've been okay, but there is no doubt that everything I do is a little harder, like walking through deep snow.  

But as the year has advanced, things have gotten a little easier and I'm feeling more like myself.  Still, I admit that the holidays have been hard.  If you hadn't heard, my parents moved to Germany in August.  To go through this month without my sister and without my parents has been rough.  Little things will trigger huge feelings of loneliness and loss.  On top of that, I've been stressed with all the holiday preparations, feeling like there is never enough time or money to do everything I want to do. I admit I've done my fair share of yelling at my kids.  Addie even told me that I was probably on the naughty list for being so mad all the time.    

But there is also something about Christmas that can melt even my grinchy heart when I let it.  And even when I don't, some kind act will force me to face the joy that comes from the selflessness of the spirit of Christmas.  That happened to me yesterday.  We were the recipients of a generous secret Santa gift.  It was so generous that it has me believing in Santa for what is probably the first time in my life.  When I think about the kindness that was shown to us yesterday and throughout the past few years, I am blown away.  I cannot believe the generosity that surrounds me.  I am humbled and grateful and hopeful that someday I can bless others as others have blessed me.

We got another great Christmas present this month.  Steven had scans a few weeks ago and there was no sign of cancer.  It's great news for him and for all of us.  It has been four years since he finished his treatment, and he will go to yearly chest xrays now, rather than CT scans.  I asked the doctor, "Why not scans, and why not wait until it's been five years out from treatment?"  She said that once patients reach four years out, the cancer is very unlikely to return and that the difference between the four and five year recurrences is negligible.   It is wonderful news.  It means a full year can pass and we can put this behind us.  It means his chance of survival has gone up.  It means we will have less medical bills and less doctors appointments.  It means we are starting a whole new chapter of our cancer story.

And so, as this year ends, I find myself full of hope.  I feel that next year will be a year of recovery and renewal.  I may not ever be quite the same person that I used to be, but I hope that I can find some of the energy and joy I've lost.  I owe this hope to so many people all around who lift and care for me and my family.  But mostly I owe this hope to my Savior, Jesus Christ, whose example and teachings have taught us to love and whose sacrifice gives me hope of eternal life.  

Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.

Merry Christmas!

Addie and her cousin in our nativity play this year.

A few snapshots from December.