Christmas is right around the corner and yet, there are so many things left to be done before I feel I have completed my home and tidings of joy for the season. Everyone has their last-minute stops that take priority, while others work to complete as many job obligations, so that they have many opportunities to begin new family traditions for the New Year. Just last week my friend Georgia was talking about her sisters and her mother, all taking some time to whisk and whirl about the Coates’ family kitchen. She wondered if this might be a new tradition, as this 2010’ year had taken her grandmother and her father; although the bowls were full, the tears were full that day with joy and sadness.
I’m sure many people will share this same sentiment. Some of us have memories to carry from years before, but it really is tomorrows when families come to visit that we must remember what truly has brought us together. Oh, the wonders of Christmas tidings, with love and laughter and hope for many tomorrows. Hope for a faith that twinkle in the lights on the trees. The star on top of my tree will forever remind me these next few days of people with empty hands extended, more than extended hands full of grace. I will forever remember a lesson learned, “You will never give more grace, than you have received,” and you cannot give that grace if your hands are full of resentment and such.
It is the next few days that I do treasure. Wednesday I will wrap presents, and finish baking. I will try to steal a moment in the park on Wednesday and Thursday if open. Friday, I will spend with my friend David. David is here studying at Louisiana Tech University from Uganda. His roommate, Anky and he came to Tech a few years ago when I worked there. I have seen others come there from Bangladesh – Abir, Arafat, and Shafaeat, Abena from Guiana, Chen from China, and Brian, and Chuka from Nigeria, who has now come and gone. David and Anky, and came first and later, Abdul came over from Uganda. I will spend Christmas with David on Friday
For now it will be David and I. It may not be more than dinner and a movie, but the time to sit and laugh is a welcome break for a truly remarkable young man, who endures so much of his time and countless hours working to become the best in his field. It is such an opportunity to realize how wonderful people are from around the world.
I know with the talks of this “really” being the final ending of the war and the troops coming home, everyone sits with bated breath. The United States military reported 1,735 deaths in Afghanistan. The United States military reported 4,485 members had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003. This includes a figure of 9 military civilians killed in action. Since the United States military operations in Iraq started, 32,226, United States Service members have been wounded in hostile action.
This country has lost so many wonderful people. I used to stop by Wiley Tower often as I could to drop by and speak with Sherry Jones. She has a son in the United States Military. She rarely gets to speak to him, as much as some do, and as much as mothers would like. I do not see her now, but I pray Ryan makes it home safely.
I will light a candle for their family this year. I will light a candle for those gone before us, those born on Christmas tonight, unable to light the world by a family, or even a mother, and one to adorn the birthday cake it shall be made for.
If you haven’t made a tradition with your family, do it this year. Next year could be too late. If you haven’t met someone from another country, meet someone. You might be surprised, how happy, and humbling of an experience it is for both of you. If you haven’t had a minute to stop running with all of the things you have going on – the family, the in-laws, the countless people coming and going in your life, even the Fed-Ex man? Stop, whisper under your breath, Thank You! They may not be there tomorrow. Like yesterday’s shoes, or the way those shoes look new by the light of those who will love us always; brush the dust off, put them on, and keep on walking. Immanuel, God with Us.
Published December 1, 2011, Ruston Daily Leader, The Park Bench.