I read a blog post from Jon Acuff last week about the best Christmas gift you can give: your presence.
I’ve given a lot of that this week. You see, last week I got the “you should come sooner rather than later” call from my mom’s Hospice team, so I came to sit by her side. At the beginning of the week, while mom slept, my time was spent reading, writing, holding my iPhone at just the right angle to pick up a WiFi signal so I could update my Twitter feed…and of course we watched many HGTV marathons. But as the week went on, to-do lists went out the window. Things got darker- mom didn’t want the lights on or the TV playing, and nothing else around me seemed to matter. So I sat. Her presence became my present, and likewise.
This is a situation that no one likes to think about, and certainly one that no 26 year old expects to find themselves in. But it allowed me time to think. Sitting in a dark room next to your dying mother has a way of doing that, I suppose. I thought about the meaning of life. I prayed more than I have all year- simply because I had the time and space to do so.
I thought about Christmas and how it wasn’t full of the magic and wonder I was hoping for this (and every) year. But then I thought of advent: the season that I have never understood but have longed to experience. The season of expectant waiting, which often gets overlooked because the kingdom of the world sells consumerism and instant gratification.
I began to realize that maybe this IS what the wonder I was looking for all along.
I’m not snuggling under the tree with my husband like I had expected, but I am offering a listening ear to my mother’s husband when he needs it most.
I’m not attending Christmas parties and wrapping perfect packages to go underneath the tree, but I am sharing in the joy of my mom’s neighbors at the nursing home as they sing Christmas Carols and get a visit from Santa (who may be the only visitor some of them see all year).
I may not be preparing a giant Christmas feast or undertaking large baking projects…but as I visit the store to buy a few vegetables to get me through the week I am so happy to be removed from the consumerism and exhaustion that haunts the faces of the last minute shoppers who surround me.
I may not be gathering with friends to read the Christmas story and talk about our upcoming plans for the holiday, but I did get a chance to read it to mom, who I believe appreciated it more than anyone else, especially as she told me with a big smile on her face that she was ready to go meet Jesus.
Yes, I would take this version of “Christmas wonder” any day. Merry Christmas, friends. I hope you were able to spend it with the ones you love.
♥ ♥ ♥
Update: Mom has always been an overachiever, and she continues to fight longer than they had expected. I was able to make it home in time to attend the Christmas Eve service with my husband and then together celebrate our first Christmas with my in-laws. I am truly thankful for the gift of presence this Christmas, and for a family who supports and loves me.