As I sit here at the close of this year’s Christmas Day, I find myself reflecting on past Christmases. This is by far my favorite time of year. The air is crisp and cold, and we either have snow or are gearing up for an impending snow storm. Families and friends are reconnecting, perhaps planning a party, or at least dinner. For me, I’m celebrating three very different occasions: the anniversary of my hubby’s dad’s liver transplant, my wedding anniversary, and of course, Christmas.
Five years ago, Steven’s dad was diagnosed with liver failure that had no known cause. He was placed on the waiting list that fall…which just begins a long, stressful wait. I can’t find the words to describe what it’s like to wait for that one phone call…or two…or three. Two false alarms, and one “good-to-go” call is what it took before we could finally settle in for a very long night in the ICU waiting room. Three days before Christmas. Now, I’ve been on the living donor side of transplant surgery when my dad donated over half his liver to his cousin in 2001. But it’s a completely different feeling to be on the recipient side…especially knowing that my loved one gets a second life because another family is grieving the death of their loved one. Because of that family’s willingness to donate their loved one’s organs, not only my family, but also several other families get more time with their loved ones. This year, we were able to celebrate Dad’s 5th second birthday! Thank God for medical technology that allows for the intricacies of transplant surgery!
Steven and I met when I was a sophomore in college (Go, McKendree Bearcats!). He says that after our first date, he went home and told his mom that I was the girl he was going to marry, a story she confirms. Aw! In October of that year, he proposed on McKendree’s front lawn, one of my favorite places on campus. I was so surprised, but found the ability to say yes. I wanted to finish school first, and he was so understanding and patient…what a blessing! We were married two years later, on December 23, 2000. I think our relationship benefitted, though, from such a lengthy engagement. We were able to learn about each other’s habits, our family’s habits, and really see each other at our best and worst. Some days we can’t believe it’s been 12 years…and others…well, it feels like it’s been a lot longer. I am so thankful every day, though, that God blessed me with Steven. I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else!
And now, Christmas…my very favorite holiday of the year. The cookies and candies…the decorations…the twinkle of lights on houses and trees – I just love it all. Each year, I make fudge for my brother and S-cookies for my dad…at minimum! I also made animal (cutout) cookies this year, and we’ll decorate them as a family on Friday night. We’ll get together with Mom’s family on Saturday, and just our six that night. Steven and I spent time yesterday and today with his parents, as well as this morning with just the two of us.
We started our Christmas festivities, though, with singing in both Christmas Eve services at our church, Leclaire Christian Church. The service, whether we attend or participate in it, always helps to get me centered on the real reason for Christmas. Without the birth of Jesus, we wouldn’t be able to know the power of God’s redemptive love. Without Him, my joy in celebrating Dad’s second birthday and my anniversary wouldn’t be as meaningful. Without Him, my joy in the Christmas season wouldn’t be complete. Thank You, God, for sending your Son for us. Thank You for loving us so much that you give us a second chance…a chance for eternal life.
My greatest wish for each of you is that you have a blessed Christmas, and that the memories of today stretch into the New Year.