Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas --- What a Difference a Year Makes?

 Borrowing from the Dinah Washington hit from the 50’s (“What a Difference a Day Made”) I decided I would write about how every Christmas is different and then a peculiar thing happened – rather than write it I started to experience it. What I mean by that is all of a sudden I didn’t want to write a Christmas letter this year. And that for me is a first. Now what that does is point out for me, for a variety of reasons, this isn’t like any other Christmas.
  Let me mention some reasons – I’m in a different space, a different place (both in terms of location and in terms of attitude). I now reside at Juliet Fowler Christian Home. The official address is 5810 East Side Avenue, Apartment #F310, Dallas, Texas 75214. For those who pay attention to such things, that’s my new “snail” mail address. It’s a great place and I couldn’t be happier with it. More room, very neighborly neighbors, not that far from my old place and even the Laundromat is located on my floor, a few doors down and an extra bonus – it’s cheaper to use than my old place. Plus the rent here is $3.00 less than my old place and here instead of paying for an efficiency apartment I’ve got a single bedroom. So in way, as far gifts go, God gave me my Christmas present early.
  I had been on the waiting list to get in here since this past Spring so I was elated to be able to get in at last. My church, Wilshire Baptist Church, came through like “gangbusters” when it came time to move. Glad they did because I couldn’t do much of anything besides pack some boxes.
   Which brings me to the “different place” part of my earlier statement -- I’m currently dealing with some heart issues, brought on by an incident that took place in October while I was visiting my pals, The Duckett family, who live in Townsend, MA. This event resulted in my spending five (count ‘em, five) days in Mass. General Hospital in Boston. A fine hospital to be sure, world renown but frankly I would have preferred to skip my visit there altogether. What they discovered is that my heart is not getting enough blood flow and hence not enough oxygen. No surgery possible and so I got loaded up on medication. (Now that’s the “Reader’s Digest” version).
   I’m currently undergoing treatments that require I go spend an hour a day, 5 days a week undergoing a procedure. It’s for 7 weeks and I’m half way through it. Once again Wilshire is helping in a big way. Now all of that aside, I find that this Christmas the reality of one’s mortality, the challenges of dealing with possibly an on going problem and the frustration of not being able to do things for myself that I could normally do most certainly puts me in a different “place”, say from last Christmas.
   And so a question springs to mind and it’s one well worth asking, methinks. Every Christmas is different but is it really? Is it more a question of our perspective on how we feel about Christmas in any given year or does really change from year to year?
   Let’s tackle the basics – throwing out the gifts, the gatherings, the great parties and going to be with family what do we have left. Well, first off it’s about somebody’s birthday, ostensibly. This somebody was reputed to be the Savior of the world and his name was Jesus. His coming was such a big deal that a whole multitude of angels were hired for the occasion and the lowliest (the shepherds) and most noble (Wise men) were let in on the celebration. It wasn’t much of a place to be born, if you’re supposed to be a King – a stable with smelly, dirty animals. However there was a star in the sky that was so bright it could be seen for miles and miles and miles. That’s the basics right – if you’re one who considers himself a believer in Jesus Christ. If not, then your version of Christmas is your version of Christmas and I wouldn’t presume to change your mind about such things in a single letter – not that I could. But if you’re a Christ-follower then what I’ve stated is more or less the basics when it comes to what Christmas is.
  Okay, what about that story has changed? … that’s right, nothing. It’s timeless, it’s God-blessed, it’s forever and it’s what makes Christmas, Christmas.
   So for me, I’m going to do my darnedest to hang to on to that, to let the Spirit of that envelope me, even while I may bemoan the fact that this is not way I would have preferred to feel at Christmas. And believe me, I don’t begrudge anyone who honestly is disappointed in the way they’re feeling at Christmas as compared to past Yuletide celebrations. But let’s all try and not lose sight of the fact that Christmas will always be Christmas as long we remember the story and what the story means and why it’s still worth singing about and sharing. In the meantime … cry if you need to, wish hard if you need to and even moan a bit even if you need to. It’s okay – at least to my mind – but let’s each and all of us hold on fast to the hope – a hope for peace and joy rooted in the forever truth that on that first Christmas “A Savior was born – Christ the Lord.”

Merry Christmas
George Gagliardi, 2016