As all families do, we have our own traditions. Every year, no matter how old the boys get, we go to the mall and visit with Santa, we bake cookies and drink some hot coco. We take in the sites of Christmas, together, as a family, and sing Happy birthday to Jesus on Christmas Eve. We go out and look for our tree, string lights and let the boys place all their ornaments around the tree. As we count down the days till Christmas the boys find small treasures behind each door of our advent calendar. Then about a week before, we work together getting all the outside lights hung on the house. Finally we place our families', 35 year old Nativity scene, out for all to see. Sure many of the pieces may be missing, and a Shepard may now stand in for Joseph, but it is a tradition, our way of honoring the holiday's true meaning in our hearts.
This season is my favorite time of year. A time to celebrate not only my Lord's birth, but the love of my family.It is also a very somber time for me as well. I will never forget the Christmas Eve we took the boys to see Santa in 2006. My hair was just beginning to grow back in. My port was still in and we had completed out first walk ( Race for the Cure) two months before. It was Christmas and I was looking at a second chance at life at the age of 33. Life was uncertain and our emotions as a family were still very raw. I loved the lights, the reindeer and the beautiful fire flickering in the mall hearth. As we stood in line the boys seemed a bit controlled, unlike the kids around them who were giggling, jumping up and down and full of anticipation. Joshua and Micah just sort of stood there, speaking every now and then, looking around, smiling, but more reserved than most children on Christmas Eve.
As I remember, look back in my memory of the day I am still moved to tears. I can still see Micah getting off of Santa's lap and Joshua lingering a moment. Santa looked him straight in the eyes and asked him what was on his mind? What did he want Santa to bring him for Christmas? Then the words flowed out, as if a dam had burst inside him. Then and there I felt as if my resolve would buckle. Santa looked my way, and I could see the agony in his own eyes. My son, my sweet boy looked Santa straight in his eyes and without hesitating asked if Santa would please ask God to let his mommy live and not die from cancer! this was his only wish. He told Santa he wanted nothing else! I was broken, completely lost in this emotion as it burst through my well build wall of strength.
Nothing more could Santa say. You could see he was in shock himself. Santa was at a loss, how could he promise my child such a thing? So he looked my 10 year old son in the eyes, nodded his head and walked him over to where I stood. This brief but seemingly long moment passed as Santa placed Joshua's hand into mine. I hadn't even seen Santa walk Joshua over to where I stood. It was if the world stood still. I was speechless, saddened, broken. Here was my son, my child, asking Santa, to grant this one wish... of life, to his mommy. He wanted nothing more than to know he wasn't going to see his mommy die. Joshua had no care of what lay beneath the tree, or what wonders Santa would deliver later in the night. No his one, solitary wish was for his mommy... to live.
Life has taught me many lessons, but of all, this one is the greatest... children, are precious. If we but took a moment to really understand, to witness their acts of self sacrifice the world would be one of true brotherhood and peace. Children in their innocence give us more than any material gift can ever provide us. In the wish of a child, in a simple prayer, they can bring such insight into our over scheduled lives. If we all but took a moment, to consider all we do have and offer our love and forgiveness, unconditionally to those we love. If we were willing to give up our own needs, wants and wishes for someone else, maybe we all experience the true meaning of this season.
Of this I am sure, as I look back , as I remember Christmas Eve 2006 I was given the greatest gift of my life.In my heart I know it was the most beautiful I have ever experienced even though it was one of the most painstaking in all my life. As I reminisce I am reminded of Christ's gift to us, of his birth and death, and the timeless message of self sacrifice. I am here today, I live because my son prayed fervently for my life. He did not waiver in his desire or his resolve. As a child, Joshua gave up the most important wish of the year... he gave his Christmas wish, to his mother....
So this year as you light the candles, bake gingerbread men and open gifts surrounded by family, remember the true meaning of this season is giving of yourself.