December 25, 2011 brings the sixty-second Christmas season into my life. Each Christmas season uniquely different, painted on my memory canvas with the bold broad strokes of life's experiences. As I reflect on my journey through the Christmas's of my life I can not help but notice how much has changed along the way.
As my youth gave way to adulthood, my vision of Christmas matured and I grew in the understanding of the multi-layered complexities of the Christmas season. Six years ago this Christmas season, our lives changed forever with the first diagnosis of Brain Tumors in our family. In those dark moments, we learned that the important gifts of Christmas were not in the packages under the tree. The gifts of Christmas were in the love shared among family and friends.
Two years later, Sheila faced her first surgery days before Christmas. Christmas Eve found us home with a morphine ball and drains throughout her surgical sites. She asked me to carry her to the car and take her on our annual Christmas light tour. I drove for hours through the neighborhoods of Dallas while Sheila, under the strong influence of morphine, pronounced it the best light show she had ever seen. Life can not change because your situation changes. Love is eternal and endures all hardships.
We have continued with our annual surgeries and treatments throughout the years. As the years past, Sheila and our grandson, Carson, have each fought their battles with the enemy cells that reside in their brains. Both Sheila and Carson are well this year, but, on constant guard for future invaders. The brain tumor that remains with Sheila is our constant reminder that life is precious and should be celebrated with love of friends and family.
Our family's battles with Brain Tumors have brought to us our most precious Christmas gifts. Gifts given to us by friends and family long seperated in time and distance, but, connected in memories and spirit. The best Christmas gifts we receive come from the kindness, compassion and love given by those who live to love and in return love to live.
After all, Christmas has never been about the gifts that the wise men brought. Those gifts were precious to the wise and wealthy people at that time. They were a tribute to a future King. The true gift of that original Christmas was the gift of love and hope given to each and every one of us. The birth and life that we celebrate on every Christmas is the gift to each of us of unconditional and pure love. Forgiving and encouraging love offered to all, and received by anyone who reaches out for it.
The gifts that have meaning are the gifts of love, because "God is Love". For anyone who chooses to read this note, our love is offered to you and your love is welcomed. Our hope for you is that the gift of love comes to you this Christmas and bestows upon you the peace and happiness you deserve. Have a Merry Christmas.