Several years ago, our family experienced a Christmas that we will long remember with great fondness. Our celebration was rather quiet and ordinary. We spent the day at home with takeout food from the only restaurant open on Christmas Day. We enjoyed cookies and candy that were given to us by our friends. During the afternoon, the four of us took long naps to help with recovery and stress reduction. To this day we have trouble recalling the exact gifts that we gave and received. Still, Christmas was very meaningful because the four of us were together.
Becky, my wife, was recovering from major surgery that took place three weeks before Christmas and a heart attack that occurred a week before Christmas. Emily, our youngest daughter, was recovering from a minor surgery that resulted in a serious blood loss and emergency surgery just weeks prior to Christmas. Even though they looked pale and tired, I don't think that they have ever looked as nice as they did on that Christmas.
Sarah, our oldest daughter, and I made every effort to provide the necessary care and to prepare our family for the Holy Day. We kept track of the various medicines and the rapid changes to our diets. We decorated the house as best we could and purchased a few last minute gifts. Mostly, we tried to remain calm and reassuring.
Recent media reports are focusing upon how Christmas 2009 will be unlike any other. Because of the economy, we will be less likely to travel and more likely to remain close to home. We will not be spending as much on the major electronic items and more on sweaters and daily necessities. We have even been told that the shelves of many food pantries are empty and social agencies are struggling to meet the needs for utility assistance and clothing assistance.
While it is easy to focus upon all that we do not have, it is important for us to remember the words of Paul. In the first chapter of First Corinthians, Paul tells us that we are not lacking any spiritual gifts. I interpret it to mean that we have everything we need in order to live Christ-filled lives. The Calhoun family may or may not be able to spend as much as we normally do for Christmas; however, I am focusing on the wonderful people that surround us. I am also focusing upon the God-given spiritual gifts that are present in our family and the people we encounter every day.
I am truly grateful for Becky, Sarah and Emily as well as the members of our extended families. Even though some members may be a part of the heavenly kingdom I still feel their presence.
I am grateful for Sunday worship. I love the music, the scripture lessons, the prayers, the sacraments and the fellowship.
I am grateful for the people at Woodford Memorial United Methodist Church. They always provide me with some good laughter and serious examples of living Christ-like lives.
I am grateful for the wisdom and insight that has been passed to me through the countless people who enrich my life.
I am grateful for the excellent medical care that enables our family to enjoy a better quality of life.
I am grateful for the books, CDs and movies on our shelves as well as a comfortable couch, a television that has seen better days, a great CD player and a good reading light.
I am thankful for our wonderful community. We are blessed with wonderful people and trustworthy merchants. There is always something to do. What beautiful gifts we have in the Forest Festival, Augusta Festival, Arts Center and railroad.
I am grateful for our freedom to vote, to speak our thoughts, to worship without persecution and to read the books and papers that many are forbidden to read.
When I focus upon the spiritual gifts evident in my family, friends and community, I realize that I have everything needed to live a Christ-filled life. What else could I possibly want for Christmas?
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)