When Christmas Changes

Throughout our city, wherever we traveled, we heard it.Xmas pkg - hot choc

In grocery stores, libraries, Target and Wal-Mart — even during church services where it occurred in stereo sound — one person in the aisle echoed by someone across the room.

The Great Cough of 2016.

In spite of our vitamins, clean eating and daily spraying through the house with Lysol, my son and I both caught the Great Cough of 2016.

With all our plans for the holidays suddenly deleted, we dragged our pitiful selves to our respective recliners. The cat glanced back and forth as we coughed, trying to rid our bodies of what the doctors called “Upper Respiratory Infection.”

Christmas plans immediately changed. None of our usual holiday foods. I wasn’t cooking anything except chicken soup. Unwrapped presents waited in Amazon boxes. Worse, we were not able to spend Christmas with the family in Oklahoma.

We didn’t want to infect the entire clan, and truthfully — they didn’t want us within breathing distance. Why take our germs across the state line to risk the health of the children, my elderly mother and all the other relatives?

This was the first year since I served as a missionary in Honduras that I did not see my mother for Christmas.

We found an urgent care open on a Sunday. Bless the hearts of that medical staff! We armed ourselves with legal drugs. Thank you to the hard-working people at CVS! Fully medicated, we each returned to bed and slept late — when the coughing didn’t wake us up.

But Christmas happened in spite of illness. A few days later, my son’s girlfriend and her family invited us for a delicious meal and an evening of fun. We played table games, wearing hygienic gloves, trying not to cough on anyone.

The next day, we piled cough drops into my purse and escaped the sick house for a movie. I highly recommend “Collateral Beauty” with Will Smith’s poignant performance of a man dealing with intense grief. The twist at the end gave us plenty of conversation starters as we managed an evening breakfast at IHOP.

Then we again collapsed in our recliners. Still coughing, but finding some joy in TV shows. The Grinch tried to steal Christmas from Cindy Lou Who while George Bailey learned how he lived a wonderful life.

Our Christmas may have looked different and not what we planned but we survived it. The promised Messiah still came. The beauty of Luke chapter two remained solid and the twinkle lights on our tree reflected a glowing  angel at the top.

Hope survived our Christmas changes as gradual healing brought us upright to face a new year. The Great Cough of 2016 did not win, because Christmas is not about food, health, presents or travel.

Christmas incorporates the beauty of music, joy, light and a Love that forever transforms lives. No matter how we celebrate the season, the root of its beginning cannot change.

And in that security, we find hope in the eternal promise – Immanuel – God is still with us.

©2018 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved.

For a holiday gift you can give to a hard-working caregiver, consider Holiday Tips for Caregivers. Available on Amazon and Kindle.

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Christmas with Reverend G

Christmas-CrossSome of my readers have wondered what Reverend G does for Christmas. So I asked her, and she said:

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, and even with my Alzheimer’s I remember so many past memories. My beloved Jacob in his Lone Ranger pajamas, tearing into his presents and so excited to find a toy replica of Silver. He ran all over the house shouting, “Hi- ho, Silver…Away.” The neighbors probably wondered how a minister raised such a wild kid.

The orange slices I piled into Jacob’s stocking, knowing that in a couple of months we would visit Mort, the town dentist and hear him say, “Reverend G, I’ll bet this boy of yours has been eatin’ more of them orange slices. Worst dang things for teeth.”

Of course, as a minister, my first priority was to make sure my parishioners understood the beauty and meaning behind Christmas. I worked for weeks on those sermons, and always surprised my congregation with a message about some of the more unknown characters. One year, I preached about the shepherds.

“Did you know, folks, that these same shepherds watched over the flock of sheep that were used in the temple sacrifices? Imagine that! These men and probably some of their sons heard the angels in heaven proclaim the news about Jesus. These shepherds, who guarded the sacrificial lambs, were the first to come and worship the Lamb of God.”

But as sweet as those memories, the present Christmas with my loved ones may prove to be one of the best. I still know all their faces and names as we sit in my living room, exchanging gifts and listening to Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas” once again.

In the years to come, this stupid Alzheimer’s will steal my loved ones away from me. Christmas will be just another day on the calendar as I wait to die.

Oh God, oh God. Help me enjoy my loved ones now. Cache every memory of their faces, their smells, their voices into the deepest caverns of my soul. My brain might fail me, but my heart will always carry love for Jacob, Jessie, Chris and my blessed grandchild.

We watched “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Chris and I danced around the living room while George and Mary did the Charleston on TV in the high school gym. Jessie cried when George Bailey found his way home and embraced his children after that infernal newel post came loose again.

Jacob sat on the sofa and petted Gabriel. Jacob is more into “The Grinch Stole Christmas.” He doesn’t like sentimental movies, although I’ve seen his eyes mist over when Cindy Lou Who peeks around the corner at the Santa Grinch.

Thankfully, Gabriel stayed in my apartment during Christmas week. Nobody transferred to heaven, so he didn’t have to work. You know, of course, about Gabriel and his special gift if you’ve read the book.

Jacob and Jessie gave me a new angel ornament to hang on my tree, the little tree that Chris and I decorated one afternoon. Then Chris and I put the nativity characters together while Jacob set up the little hand-made stable. I think one of my parishioners made that for me years ago. Can’t remember which one, but that doesn’t matter now. God knows who it was, and someday He’ll make sure that person receives a special thank you.

The funniest thing, though. Gabriel really loves the ceramic Baby Jesus. He leaves all the other characters alone, but he keeps carting off Baby Jesus. I walked into the living room and there were the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph – all staring into an empty manger. Gabriel scarfed the baby again.

So I searched under the sofa, under my bed, even in the litter box (gross!). Usually I find Baby Jesus in some of Gabriel’s favorite places – in a corner of the sofa, on the window seat where the sun is warmest, even next to Gabriel’s water dish. I guess he wants Baby Jesus to stay close to him and share his favorite parts of life.

Maybe that’s what we all need to do at Christmas and throughout the year. Let Jesus share in the favorite parts of our lives. We seem to always invite Him to share our sorrows, because it makes us feel better to have Him with us.

But I think He likes to laugh with us, enjoy a warm beam of sunshine or a soft corner on the sofa. I think Jesus just wants to hang out with us.

©2014 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

Reverend G’s Christmas

Some of my readers have wondered what Reverend G does for Christmas. So I asked her, and she said:

“Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays, and even with my Alzheimer’s I remember so many past memories. My beloved Jacob in his Lone Ranger pajamas, tearing into his presents and so excited to find a toy replica of Silver. He ran all over the house shouting, “Hi- ho, Silver…Away.” The neighbors probably wondered how a minister raised such a wild kid.

The orange slices I piled into Jacob’s stocking, knowing that in a couple of months we would visit Mort, the town dentist and hear him say, “Reverend G, I’ll bet this boy of yours has been eatin’ more of them orange slices. Worst dang things for teeth.”

Of course, as a minister, my first priority was to make sure my parishioners understood the beauty and meaning behind Christmas. I worked for weeks on those sermons, and always surprised my congregation with a message about some of the more unknown characters. One year, I preached about the shepherds.

‘Did you know, folks, that these same shepherds watched over the flock of sheep that were used in the temple sacrifices? Imagine that! These men and probably some of their sons heard the angels in heaven proclaim the news about Jesus. These shepherds, who guarded the sacrificial lambs, were the first to come and worship the Lamb of God.’

But as sweet as those memories, the present Christmas with my loved ones may prove to be one of the best. I still know all their faces and names as we sit in my living room, exchanging gifts and listening to Bing Crosby sing ‘White Christmas’ once again.

In the years to come, this stupid Alzheimer’s will steal my loved ones away from me. Christmas will be just another day on the calendar as I wait to die.

Oh God, oh God. Help me enjoy my loved ones now. Cache every memory of their faces, their smells, their voices into the deepest caverns of my soul. My brain might fail me, but let my heart always carry love for Jacob, Jessie, Chris and my blessed grandchild.

We watched ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Chris and I danced around the living room while the TV George and Mary jigged the Charleston in the high school gym. Jessie cried when George Bailey found his way home and embraced his children after that infernal newel post came loose again.

Jacob sat on the sofa and petted Gabriel. Jacob is more into ‘The Grinch Stole Christmas.’ He doesn’t like sentimental movies, although I’ve seen his eyes mist over when Cindy Lou Who peeks around the corner at the Santa Grinch.

Thankfully, Gabriel stayed in my apartment during Christmas week. Nobody transferred to heaven, so he didn’t have to work. You know, of course, about Gabriel and his special gift if you’ve read the book. You have read the book, right? ‘The Unraveling of Reverend G?’

Anyway, Jacob and Jessie gave me a new angel ornament to hang on my tree, the little tree that Chris and I decorated one afternoon. Then Chris and I put the nativity characters together while Jacob set up the little hand-made stable. I think one of my parishioners made that for me years ago. Can’t remember which one, but that doesn’t matter now. God knows who it was, and someday He’ll make sure that person receives a special thank you.

nativity sceneThe funniest thing, though. Gabriel really loves the ceramic Baby Jesus. He leaves all the other characters alone, but he keeps carting off Baby Jesus. I walked into the living room and there were the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph – all staring into an empty manger. Gabriel scarfed the baby again.

So I searched under the sofa, under my bed, even in the litter box (gross!). Usually I find Baby Jesus in some of Gabriel’s favorite places – in a corner of the sofa, on the window seat where the sun is warmest, even next to Gabriel’s water dish. I guess he wants Baby Jesus to stay close to him and share his favorite parts of life.

Maybe that’s what we all need to do at Christmas and throughout the year. Let Jesus share in the favorite parts of our lives. We seem to always invite Him to share our sorrows, because it makes us feel better to have Him with us.

But I think He likes to laugh with us, enjoy a warm beam of sunshine or a soft corner on the sofa. I think Jesus just wants to hang out with us.”