This past Saturday morning I was wishing for the second day of Christmas. That’s what the day after Christmas is called in Austria, and it is a calendar holiday. There are several stories of its beginning in Europe, but it’s believed alms boxes in the Church as early as the 1600s were given to the poor that day. Years later, Victorians named it Boxing Day; a day when the more affluent gave boxes of leftover food, money or other gifts to servants and trades people… to those who had provided good service throughout the year.
The day had nothing to do with Boxing, but all to do with acts of kindness and charity. What a novel idea, indeed? Today the day after Christmas is considered a shopping or ‘return gifts’ day for most countries who once celebrated this as a giving, selfless day. When we lived In Vienna, it was a quiet, reflective day.
I think this second day of Christmas should be named… Reflection Day… especially this year when there is much to ponder…
I wanted another day of Christmas as the 25th found Tom and me alone with no hopes of celebrating with family. Perhaps you were alone due to the viral pandemic, as well. I found myself wanting something more… something more joyful, more real, more like Christmases past. Would another day help?
So I reflect…
Yes, you and I know the story of Christmas. The words of Silent Night wrap us in peace. Or do they? I understand Emmanuel means “God with us”…
But why… at times, does He feel far away. Maybe I have lost something these months of 2020. I just returned this morning from walking, and a neighbor shared that the owner of the many cows surrounding our property and her property died three weeks ago of this virus; he was 60 years old. Daily texts inform of someone testing positive… some fighting for their lives.
We came very near to losing a sweet son-in-law this summer to the virus. I still reflect on those 83 days he was in the hospital, struggling for breath. What did I learn? What whispers did I hear from the heart of the Father?
So I reflect… I consider this year… soon to be history.
This scene out my dining window (all made by Tom in his shop) has somehow anchored my thoughts every meal these weeks. The deer, masked in wood, has become a guide. My eyes go immediately to the star, but then I study the face of this deer. I notice every day he focuses on the star while he guards the manger. We have had stormy weather, high winds, frigid temperatures. Yet, his gaze has constantly been upward; he has never wavered. Odd, this scene stirs me… causes an examination of my heart, my trust. Often, as I linger with coffee or hot tea, my spirit quietens, and I walk away with peace.
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11,12. What words speak the loudest to you or perhaps, the softest? While each word and phrase are almost holy, it is the words “to you” in two places that speak so personally to me. He was born ‘to me’ and then I was given a sign, a physical sign that He is real! What do you do with this truth? Amazing!
Whatever this year has given and taken away, as difficult as it may be, I must choose to reflect on the lessons learned, the truth understood, and focus on the important, even when tears fall.
“For the rest, sweet brothers and sisters, (italics mine) whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on, weigh and take account of these things… fix your minds on them.” Philippians 4:8 Amplified Bible
“What was your best Christmas gift ever as a child?” I asked Tom on Christmas morning. He smiled and immediately said, “The year I got my first bicycle … now I could go places!” He told me what that new freedom meant living on the farm.
So we reflected on the places we have gone… and the beautiful people we have met on the way… You have filled our lives with immeasurable joy. My ABC* mind wants to list each one by name… but there are so many of you, I wouldn’t have room on this blog. Thank you for your presence on our journey. (*check out my book published in July 2020, Whispers on the Journey: A Practical Guide using the ABCs in Prayer and Praise. Amazon.com)
I am going to leave the deer gazing… as a reminder to think on the good, pure, worthy of praise things this past year, and to focus on these in 2021. What about you? Will you join me in a dependency on the object of the star?
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy… they bowed down and worshiped Him. Matthew 2:10,11.