Journal #10

           Where did the month of December go? I have never experienced such a fast, full and furious December.  The one thing I remember is writing down December 1, 2009 on a piece of paper and the next thing I know, Gary and I are packing the car to leave for Laval from Portland, on Christmas Morning, December 25.

            It is a phenomenal journey to think of sailing through not only December, but also November. So many things took place in November and December that I think I can write a book for each month. But then, I would need another year to do so…

            Therefore, here is a summation of a few days which stand out in my mind and heart from these months. After my birthday break in November, the first date that stands out is November 28th. I have heard of Santa Parades in Montreal and watched other parades on television, but I had never participated in one myself. The Westport Santa Parade took place in Westport and all ecumenical ministers of the area had a float where the Christmas Story was displayed by many participants. The ministers who were not part of the scene actually put shepherd’s clothes on and gave candy canes and a beautifully rolled paper with the Christmas Story to all those watching the parade. What a fantastic way of spreading the message of Christmas along with the calendar of the events scheduled at different churches in the neighbourhood. It was truly a thrill to be part of this and see how unity makes a difference in no matter what we do.

            The same afternoon, my sister and her husband arrived from Toronto and we went for a great Spaghetti supper at Delta United Church, took a nice WAGON ride through the park that had 50 thousand Christmas lights, and then enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Choir to kick start the Season of Love.  I have to say, by the end of the night, we were all exhausted. But it was well worth it.

            The next day, November 29th would have been my mother’s 80th birthday if she had not departed from us 15 years ago. It was also my eldest sister’s and uncle’s birthday- Many blessings to celebrate. As much as this day feels sad for me (thinking about mom), there was a peace that was flowing through my heart gently and I was praising God for my mother’s life of Faith. She had planted the love of God in all of her children and all who she had met.  

            I had asked the minister of the charge if I can sing “Blessed Assurance” in Armenian, to honour my mom’s memory. The response was affirmative.  This song was on my mother’s heart and lips all the time. What I found interesting is that the refrain in Armenian actually translates to, “I will tell, until my last breath, and sing of the love of my saviour”, but yet in the original English version it is, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my saviour all the day long”. Now that I think back, I do see why my mother loved this song. The Armenian version is the exact representation of my mom’s life. I had forgotten that my sister and her hubby were coming to visit me the same week-end, so after I “woke up” I asked my brother-in-law if they would sing along with me and turn the solo into a trio. We did and it was such a blessing.  

            After completing the two services at Portland and Elgin, we enjoyed a great Potluck luncheon at Elgin church and headed to curling. My sister and I have never curled, but we wanted to go and cheer all who do. Alas, no one showed up except us. We had our own little party. The hosts of the curling club took care of us with open arms and we had a great time together. On top of it all, my sister and I curled for the first time in our lives. Yes, we did not do the acrobatic moves, but by the use of the stick, to throw the rock, we were successful in curling. It was great fun. Maybe not having anyone else there encouraged us to bite the bullet and curl.

            It was a very hectic day, but it was not finished yet. We had an hour break, after which the ecumenical event of lighting the light of Christ was going to begin in Elgin. This event is an invitation to all Elgin residents and others to come and participate. The program began at 7:00 p.m. and there were 15 minute Advent services at different churches and open areas of the town. At the end of the evening we all gathered at the Elgin Community Center and enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies and other goodies with a lively time of carolling, etc… It was an exhausting day, but all so worth it.

            One thing that really sticks with me is that no matter what denomination we belong to, when we get together we can truly light up the light of Christ. Christmas time or otherwise, unity brings forth glory to God.

            December 19, Gary arrived and I picked him up from Brockville train station. It was so great to have him back here. We spent the day together in Kingston and just when we were about to have a coffee at Chapters in Kingston, I ran into one of the congregants of Portland, and I have to say, it was so great to see her. It is so funny, how the love of God just connects us together that is hard to explain the joy it brings.

            On Sunday the 20th, the joint choir of the charge presented a great cantata, “The Wondrous Story”. It was amazing to see how the church was filled and all enjoyed the music that proclaims the Good News of Christmas and gives us hope. 

            December 21st, we had a great Blue Christmas Service. For those of us who have never been to one, it is a service for those who have heavy hearts with sorrows they have endured in the immediate or distant past. It is a time to stop from the busyness of life and reflect deeper at this time of God’s gift of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love to all. Not everyone is expecting jolly Santa to show up, so this time is set aside to reflect upon the Heart of Christmas, which is Hope in the middle of hardships; Peace in the middle of chaos; Joy in the middle of grief; and Love in the midst of loneliness. It is time to reflect upon the Spirit of Christmas and the True light of Christ; and be aware that there is Life even in the longest night. We had a great turn out and many expressed how good this gathering did to their souls – Thank God.

            On December 24th, we gathered at both churches. One service was at 6:30 and the next at 8:00. They were both amazing. It was a first time for me and Gary to share communion on Christmas Eve and it was just beautiful. There are no adequate words to express the beauty that I experienced, so, I am not even going to attempt it. After the services we went next door to the manse and kicked our feet up and relaxed for an hour with the Rev. of the charge and his family, which was so needed. Next thing we know it was almost 11:30 p.m. It felt like we had just come out of the service, but that was at 9:45 p.m. an hour and 45 minutes had passed like a minute – the company was great and the simple gathering was appreciated.

            Christmas Day morning, December 25th, packed suitcases and the car and headed home – Laval, here we come! The drive home was smooth. No snow, no sleet, but a lot of cops (we were not speeding, but many who passed us were actually caught up ahead. As Gary said, “Many are thinking O.P.P. will not be around, but the rookies are working to make an impression”). 

            Christmas supper that Dad had prepared and Mom helped plan was wonderful. With my sister, in-laws, Gary and Maya, it felt like the best Christmas ever. Yes, it would have been good if other members of our families were with us, but whoever was close by, made it all worthwhile to drive home and have the best Christmas ever.

            Yes, Christmas only comes around once a year, and we all get carried away with what we need to get for each other, but this year, I have learnt for sure that giving up yourself, your time, for the ones you love is the best gift you can give. Life is so unpredictable and fragile, we need to live as if it is Christmas every single day and allow others to enjoy our peaceful presence; undisturbed attention; and unconditional love that only comes from selfless living.

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