15 Dec Home for the Holidays
Nancy quietly contemplated the newly decorated Christmas tree glowing across the living room. The small white lights gave a warm and peaceful glow to her childhood home, illuminating the newly arrived hospital bed in which her mother nestled. A small smile came to Nancy’s lips as she remembered her mother’s directions, “See that crystal angel ornament in the box to the right of the snowman? Aunt Sara gave that to me when you were born! I always hang it right below the star, where all your brother’s and sister’s ornaments are.” Nancy treasured this rare evening when Mom’s eyes twinkled as they used to, and Mom’s loving attention to the tree reminded Nancy of her long-ago childhood Christmases.
Nancy was grateful her brother and sister remembered to “Skype in” from their homes across the country. They did their best to coax Mom to take a few more bites of the dinner Nancy prepared, or at least a sip or two from the Ensure can in Nancy’s hand. After the tree was decorated, and the calls were finished, Nancy gently repositioned Mom with pillows and blankets making her as comfortable as possible. All the excitement made it difficult for Mom to settle in for the night, but now Nancy sat in peaceful silence at her mother’s bedside while Mom took quiet, shallow breaths. The peaceful strains of carols from her Christmas playlist softened the gurgle of the oxygen machine next to Mom’s bedside.
We tend to think of Christmas in terms of children’s Santa parties, cookie decorating, and the ever-present Elf on the Shelf. After all, Christmas is about a poor child born through a young girl’s courageous ‘Yes’. But Christmas is more than Santa or the celebration of a child born in Bethlehem. The Angel Gabriel’s words in the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) speak to all of us no matter where we find ourselves this Christmas season. Just like Mary, Nancy may not feel like a ‘favored one’ as she sits by her mother’s bedside. Like Nancy, Mary was greatly troubled by the burden she was bearing. For both, the Angel’s words, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God” are filled with doubt and confusion. After all, Mary’s first response was not a quick, energetic ‘yes’, but a more tremulous “How can this be?”
Christ’s presence in our lives does not come without challenge, suffering or pain. The coming of Christmas tells us that Christ dwells among us, not just 2000 years ago, but today. Christ is in Nancy’s patient caregiving. Christ is in the twinkle in her mother’s eye. Christ is in the friends who stop by with Christmas cheer and casseroles.
Although Nancy is honored to care for her mom, the stress of family caregiving can be overwhelming. Just like Nancy, we hope you will see Christ in ACCfamily caregivers who are ready to step in and help you this holiday season. Whether it is just a four hour break to do some Christmas shopping, or 24/7 care so you can visit your grandkids, ACCfamily promises to see Christ in you, and see Christ in your loved one.
Peace be with you, and may you see Christ in all you do this Christmas Season.