Today, another dreary December arrived, complete with chunky, cotton-ball flakes twirling softly from the heavens. I groaned, dreading both the drive to church and the beginning of yet another stressful Christmas season.
My family was up north and so I made the uneventful drive to church alone. I sat in the pew, my attention distantly drifting in and out from what the pastor was saying. That is, until he told a story about a family he knew.
The mother was dying. He didn’t name names, nor did he say what she was dying from. All he said was that they knew her time was short and that this had been her last Thanksgiving – and if she made it that long, Christmas. Her children and husband wanted to savor each moment and make the holidays as special as possible for her and each other.
And then he stated something so simple and possibly cliché, yet it profoundly affected me. How would you treat others if you knew this was to be their last Christmas?
Think back upon this past year. I bet nearly every one of us could think of people both young and old that didn’t make it. And there will be those that we know today, who won’t make it through to next year’s celebrations, but of course we don’t know which ones they are.
So, rather than grumbling and stressing and being overwhelmed, how about this year we focus on each individual as if this were their last, or perhaps even YOUR last Christmas?
When you are frustrated with family members, could it be their last? When you are impatient with the lady in the check out line, could it be her last? That teenaged driver who flipped you off, is it their last? When you are frustrated and anxious this Christmas, is it your last?
Instead, may we stop and give pause for each moment to be special this year, for both ourselves and all who are around us. Rethink what is really meaningful and special about the season. Make it last, with the love that is Christ and Christmas.