My seven favorite joys this Christmas:
7. Taking time many mornings (not every) to read Advent reflections and re-set my thoughts and heart that most mornings were ten steps ahead and focused on writing Christmas cards, making biscotti, teaching classes, cleaning up to prepare for Christmas parties…
6. Celebrating our ten-year anniversary with Eric in Kyoto. (more at Ten Years and Counting).
5. My Christmas English Bible and craft class…These thirteen ladies helped me to see the Christmas story with new eyes –their own– as most of them had never heard the real Christmas story before. It was interesting as they reflected on why God chose to tell shepherds first. A few of the pairs suggested: because as shepherds they would travel around afterwards and could tell a lot of people; because they were the only ones awake in the middle of the night (!); because they were pretty ordinary, and God loves to come to ordinary people. I really am thankful for that! The crafts came out really fun — snow people and fabric wreaths…and, more importantly, several of our neighbor friends are going to continue studying the Bible in January.
4. Our kids — they keep us on our toes alright! But they’ve brought us great joy this season.
3. While we were opening gifts on Christmas morning, there were a lot of wonderful wrapped gifts under the tree…but Owen and Annie spent a good hour playing with their stocking presents without thought of the gifts waiting right behind them. We know this naivete won’t last much longer, but it sure is nice to see them take joy in the little things….
2. The chance to comingle Christmas Day joys with our own family…our Asian Access American family who ate and celebrated at our home, as well as several Japanese neighbor friends who visited who have become very dear to us….
1. Truly, the highlight of Christmas for us was the one hour that we spent in the middle of Christmas Day at a nursing home. It was so clearly arranged by God — a neighbor friend works there parttime and set everything up for us. As we sang to two different groups of seniors, most of them in wheelchairs, it was hard to sing through the tears. We were particularly moved by Annie, who did not show any fear of these new senior friends, but boldly came over to one 95-year old woman, Hatsue, who I was talking to. Annie let Hatsue stroke her head and her face, as our new friend kept saying in Japanese, “you are so beautiful. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve seen a child?”
And as we were singing, it was Annie who went out at “worked the tables,” shaking hands with each, saying “Merry Christmas,” and giggling as they put pieces of Christmas cake in her mouth. Nothing can beat that for Christmas. We can’t wait to go back at Easter.