AND THE COUNTDOWN CONTINUES!!!! 8 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!
PLEASE WELCOME TALENTED AUTHOR AND MY FRIEND, MONICA BURNS. MY VERY FIRST LORA LEIGH'S RAW CONFERENCE IN MARYLAND WAS PIVOTAL FOR ME, IT'S WHERE I MET MOST OF THE AUTHORS WHO ARE NOW MY DEAR FRIENDS. MONICA BURNS IS JUST ONE OF THOSE LADIES THAT I LIKED RIGHT AWAY. SO INTELLIGENT AND VIBRANT, MONICA JUST HAS SOMETHING ABOUT HER THAT SHINES. I LOOK FORWARD TO EVERY CONFERENCE SO I CAN GIVE THIS LADY A HUG... OR HAVE A PILLOW FIGHT WITH HER AS WE DID IN THE HOTEL LOBBY AT RT IN KANSAS CITY THIS PAST MAY.
I hope this holiday season finds you well, happy, and joyful in the presence of family and friends, making memories that will last a lifetime. The holidays have always been a HUGE deal in my family with big and small traditions that run from the first of December through the 6th of January. But beginning in 1998, the holidays became painfully bittersweet events for me. When I lost my Dad in 1988 (he was only 52), that first Christmas without him was so hard. My family found it difficult to recover from his death, and it became even harder when my Mom died on December 19th ten years later.
At that point, all the joy seemed to disappear from the holidays. I had a difficult time every year trying to get in the mood because I was longing for the past. Then in 2006 I discovered a different meaning of what the holidays were all about. On December 16th of that year a beloved uncle died. I always try to attend all family funerals, but this one was even more important. It wasn’t just because Uncle Klaus had been so dear to me, because his wife was also my godmother. I had to be there for her and my cousins.
It was a difficult, painful visit, but when I traveled home to Richmond from St. Louis a couple of days after my uncle’s funeral, I found myself rediscovering what the holiday is really about. It’s about giving of yourself and being kind to others. It was amazing how many really nice people I met on my trip home.
- The lady driving the rental car shuttle who offered my sister and me tissues as we cried together at the loss of our uncle, our parents, our grandparents, the happy times we had as kids;
- The security guard who laughed when as she asked for my ID, and I responded, “What! You don’t know me! Why everyone knows me!” She was still laughing as she handed me back my ID, and I grinned, saying, “See, you won’t forget me NOW!”
- The young sailor, who politely reassured me that our flight was delayed, not canceled, as I thought I’d heard.
- The exhausted stewardess, on her last leg of a 15-hr shift, who joked her way through the usual pre-takeoff monologue;
- The man with the kind smile who handed me my carry-on bag at my transfer stop, which got stowed about nine seats back from where I was sitting;
- And the waitress at the Waffle House who looked dead on feet yet greeted me with a smile.
All of these wonderful strangers touched me at a time when I needed to be warmed and healed. They displayed the true spirit of Christmas. As always at this time of year, my family will be celebrating the holiday with our usual traditions.
Traditions that my daughters and husband love and anticipate. At least a month before the holiday, my girls ask, “you are making XXX (there are several favorite dishes they want). There are other important annual activities such as our in-home Advent service, friends old and new arriving for our special traditions and events. But most important of all is the warmth and kindness of strangers who exemplify the true meaning of the holiday.
No matter what your beliefs, I hope you encounter someone who happens to show you a kindness or that you’ll show a complete stranger a kindness yourself. The world with all its horrors could use a whole lot of love and kindness, don’t you think?