Lovely friends, Happy New Year! And a merry Christmas, and I probably should get in early and add Valentine’s Day and a blessed Easter because I know I won’t get to those either.
I used to write letters to people I loved. Letters so long my Dad would sigh, and put it away until her knew he had more than half an hour to read it. Now I dream of writing even small cards, and telling people I care about that I really do – care. Instead, I have lazily let the pen-to-page go.
I can only hope, when I see you, when we meet for coffee, or connect over a few pixels on my phone and yours, that you know I love you and am grateful for those moments we share. I know they are only moments, and really, not enough. But I have so very many wonderful people in my life, and I am so very grateful for each one. I should have told you all this around Christmastime, but it makes it no less true that I tell you now. Months late. And that I hope your Christmas was filled to the brim with loving.
We had a few Christmases – filling, each of them. Two with a large group of friends and their kids; one with our Liz and another family we have chosen to be family; one on Christmas Day.
Christmas Day was to be a strange mix of Tim’s parents, the Chinese Nation (as we jokingly refer to my in-laws wonderful ministry with Chinese students), a Moslem girl from Tunisia, a Canadian Indian medicinally dependant on fermented beverages and a gay couple from down the street. The mechanics of making that combination of people come together with Christmas joie de vivre seemed beyond me.
Christmas morning, after the sweet chaos of presents, I confessed to the Lord I wasn’t really feeling full of Christmas love and my heart was not really in making a huge meal for people I did not know and the pressure of being responsible for them all to have a good time when I wasn’t sure they would even be able to understand each other physically or metaphorically.
Let me just say Tim and I love having people over. We do it often and easily. I am 43, have lived in Canada for 16 years and have had my own little family going for 11 years now. And still waves of “missing my family” wash over me regularly. Especially at Christmas. They were all in the pool in Sydney, having eaten a large meal together, opened presents together, had the annual Christmas-present-paper-in-the-fan fight, and there I was, saying in a small voice, “sounds like fun.”
So I took a breath, said a prayer, and found there’s always enough love to give out when God is filling you first. There was a warm, enveloping beauty at our Christmas table despite the half-cooked turkey and over-cooked ham.
It fed my soul so unexpectedly.
Later, neighbours come over and we played board games until very late over popcorn and peanut brittle. I wouldn’t have traded it to be in the most spectacular location in the world. People are what fill me, and we have just so very many and enjoy them so much. Honestly, joy in unaccountable places.
Please accept, very very belatedly, our love to you and your family, and our hope that we can gather, love in the room, either soon, or in heaven. Some of you I know I just need to be thankful we had the times we did. Others, it may be a few years until we meet again. But you are all in here, the ocean of my heart, and I am grateful for you.