Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Celebration of Life - Christmas '08

I hesitate to start my Christmas Letter on a dark note, but the recent Black Friday trampling death at our local Walmart Store affords us an incredible opportunity to focus on the meaning of Christmas. A man died because shoppers felt the Christmas gifts they needed to buy were more valuable than his life. Really? These people clearly missed the message in “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”! Christmas is NOT about the THINGS you buy at Walmart or at any other store. Christmas is not about material wealth at all. Christmas is a day commemorating the birth and life of Jesus Christ. We are meant to celebrate His life and the good example he set for us by living our lives similarly. Giving of ourselves as He gave to us. Not trampling each other to death to buy the most, or the best, gifts. “The Little Drummer Boy” did not buy a drum for Jesus. Rather, he gave of himself by playing his drum for the baby Jesus… To honor His birth and celebrate His life. Christmas is just that… A celebration of Life! His life and the life He’s given us!

Well, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to celebrate His life and ours this year! While I’ve been busy chauffeuring my children to and from school, working on this old house (yes, it is still as yet unfinished) and speaking at some of the local colleges on behalf of people with Down syndrome, I have also taken the first steps in starting-up my own business. Even though this will certainly present additional challenges for me, I celebrate the opportunities that God continues to put in my path. I hope and pray I do each justice. Meanwhile, I celebrate the lives of my children and my husband each day by giving them my love and attention and by showering them with praise and affection. While I am far from perfect as a wife or mother, my children and husband are perfect opportunities for celebration.

My “old soul” is still teaching me invaluable life lessons… which I don’t always get right away. She made her First Holy Communion this year and, fully embracing the significance as a Christian, she chose to be rebaptised in the Spirit as well. Sometimes I forget that she is just a 7-year-old little girl. A fact that amazes me. While she continues to excel at school, she insists that she is not very good at math (a statement not supported by her grades). Sadly, her perceived struggle with this subject causes her great strife. In response, she joined the Mathletes club hoping it would make math more fun for her. That’s my beautiful girl a teaching me life’s lessons again! Celebrate even the things you don’t like much… like math!

Now 3 ½, "the boys" are nothing short of a daily celebration to everyone whose lives they touch… especially mine! They’re now enrolled in full-time preschool in an integrated classroom where half the children are typically developing and half are developmentally delayed (generally, speech-delayed like the boys). They receive integrated therapies there including speech, physical therapy and occupational therapy. And, they are making great progress and learning a lot about social routines. Truly, they celebrate going to school every day! “I go chool!” And, they are celebrated at school by their teachers, therapists and classmates. Everyone at the Marcus Avenue school knows them and loves them… especially one little girl named Olivia who meets us at the door and, holding hands, they walk to their shared classroom each morning… in celebration of their arrival.

We’ve been doing a lot of celebrating in honor of my husband this year too! He not only hit his 5 year anniversary with the police department (a significant milestone in this organization), but he was also promoted the very next day. Back on a day-tour schedule means he’s home to have dinner with us each night and has 2 and 3 days off, alternating weeks, so we see a lot more of him. We’ve been celebrating his presence and he’s been able to share in more of our daily celebrations too.

Unfortunately, we had the very sad opportunity this year to celebrate the short life of, my mother-in-law, a generous woman who passed far too quickly from this world and moved on to her next life in heaven. I know she has some good company, though, as we also bade farewell to our beloved dog, Isaiah. Though it was painful to say goodbye, their lives are well worth celebrating. And, as one life comes to an end, so begins another. We are celebrating the coming of a new member of our extended family my brother-in-law and his wife are expecting the birth of their first child in March.

Christmas is certainly a festive time of year. A time to celebrate and honor not only Jesus but also our loved ones, acquaintances, and strangers as well… for all they do to make our world a better place. I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate each and every one of you, my friends and family, with a heartfelt wish for good health, good humor and a very Merry Christmas and joyous New Year.

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