It is officially Christmas Eve. We are hours away from the birth of baby Jesus and the celebration of new life that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph triumphantly celebrated. With that comes change, signaling the end of autumn and the approaching end of the year and the beginning of winter solstice, the arrival of a a new chapter, a new season--anewness in each one of us as we renew ourselves in heart, mind, body, and spirit.
Christmas is always a special and emotionally-loaded time of year for me. A lot of change is sweeping through my life--some of it good and a lot of it being uncertain. I've always strongly felt that Christmas wasn't only about gift giving. Because while some people can give fancy, expensive gifts that come in large and small-wriapped packages, not everyone can. And then you have to dig for the deeper meaning of Christmas in your life. From a Biblical stamce, it is about the birth of baby Jesus in the tiny town of Bethlehem. Christmas is about God's love and the sacrifices made in the Christian Christmas story. But again, that's the Biblical side. Another side of Christmas--the side I have always felt strongly about--so strongly that I can be moved to tears quite easily, is the side of families and friends coming together to create love... the joyous holiday lights, the warm chai, hot apple cider, eggnog, and hot chocolate... to the rich and almost decadant foods and gingerbread cooklies freshly baked. Christmas is about everyone coming together to share and delight in this major holiday. Some families large and small gather and for some, this is delightful, while it provokes a great sense of anxiety and fear of not being "good enough" in others. But we must remember that love truly conquers all. Every time.
As 2011 comes to a close, I am blessed to be spending Christmas with my mother. She has worked tirelessly to see to it that everyone in her clan is happy. She never complains when the going gets rough. I am blessed to have the opportunity to look for a new rental to begin January 2012 with, having faith that I will find a new, happier, better rental. I am excited and happy that 2012 holds the long-awaited wedding of my best friend Cole Ryan to Krysti Hilton and can't wait to celebrate such a huge, magical milestone with them in Shasta next summer. I am blessed to have my friend Tina in my life. She has had my back every time and I only hope my friendship with her grows closer in the next year because she may turn out to be the most awesome female friend I have ever had.
I have also met a 34 year-old woman online through an online dating site. Her name is Nikki. We have corresponded online via long e-mails in the last two weeks and have texted and spoken on the phone at length. Originally from Modesto, she has lived in Santa Rosa for the past ten years. Her entire family lives in Guernville. She originally contact me online, not the other way around. I was hesitant at first to reply and let a few weeks go by. Astrologically, she is a Sagittarius. She works as an alternative teacher for at-risk adolescents in juvenile hall. She has mentioned time and again that she already likes me and that I am the type of guy her father would like. (My heart nearly melted when she said that, but I tried not to show it so as to be subtle and incognito about my feelings.). (Her parents are married and she has a sister the same age as her and a brother who has a girlfriend, and they both run a restaurant in Guernville.) In being myself with Nikki, she apparently thinks I'm sweet but we'll see if she feels the same way omce we've met. We plan to meet at a coffee shop sometime next week. She has no plans for New Year's Eve, and I told her hthat if all goes well when we meet, I would like to spend New Year's Eve with her. Nikki said she would keep that in mind. So my fingers are crossed. I also discovered she is a real sports fan. She watches the San Jose Sharks game and had to teach me about how hockey games are played, telling me never to sit up high unless you want a nose bleed.
On a different note, I am sad that I will not be able to attend Christmas Eve services at Westminster Presbyterian Church. They are my church family and I will miss Pastors Barb abd Bethany and being with them. I tried getting a ride for my mother and I, but no luck. There is always Christmas Day but my mother has to want to be in the mood to attend a 10 a.m. service so we shall see.
So as we head into Christmas, a lot will be happening tonight in the homes of many. Some will attend a Christmas Eve Service by Candlelight. Others will gather with family for delicious Christmas Eve dinners and opening presents. Other families will gather with members of their clain who have just come home from serving in the war in Iraq. There will be many who are homeless in shelters with no family or friends, lucky to eat a meal and have a warm bunk bed on Christmas Eve night.
I ask of all or any of you reading this to dig deep into your heart to find the true meaning of Christmas. I know that for me, the true, unspoken meaning of Christmas occurred six years ago today while sitting in an Episcopalian service. I was dating a young woman with spina bifida, a serious physical disability. She had family based out of Windsor and had taken three days to spend Christmas with my family and I when my mother lived in Tucson, Arizona. The church was crowded, the handbell choir was two feet away from me. I had my mother and our family friend Linda sitting on one side of me while I had April (the woman I was dating) on the other side of me. As we held candles and starting singing Silent Night, as the lights dimmed, a wave of intense emotions came over me. I felt such an indescribable feeling of awe and happiness come over me that I had never before felt on Christmas Eve. It was the synergy of awesome love in the room--more love than I had ever experienced in one sitting, one setting. For me, I discovered the true joy and magic of Christmas. It wasn't about the presents. It was about the lights, the Christmas music, the people I loved that I spent such a magical evening with. Christmas Eve was about an indescribable magic. It has been what I have carried in my heart for the last six years ever since Christmas Eve 2005.
Whatever this time of year may bring to you... find and celebrate the love of others and humanity in your heart.
Merry Christmas Eve to all!