Usually just about this time of year, my excitement about the upcoming holidays begins to fade. I get a little down, and I can’t wait for the new year to come – but not this year! And that’s odd because, duh…. COVID! I’ve witnessed a lot of people die this year from COVID, both my patients and my friends. Then I blew my knee out and ended up having to retire from the job I loved in the ICU. I had to say goodbye to the friends I’d had there for many, many, many years. I had to rely on the help of family and friends during my recovery, and some of that was rather humiliating. Then I had to find a new job, and had to learn so many new things, and get to know so many new people, and then COVID came back, and……
Well, it’s been quite a year – for you too, I’m sure. Can you imagine all of the COVID stories we’ll tell, and re-tell, and re-tell again that our grandchildren will surely get tired of? I hope so, anyways. I hope this becomes “history,” that if we don’t remind ourselves, we might forget. I don’t want COVID in any part of my future, or yours, OR my grandchildren’s!
I’ve written a lot of letters this year. I’ve forgiven some people, apologized to others. I finally finished crocheting my grandson’s blanket, made a couple of other crafts, read some good books, gone for walks with my new knee, and made some really sweet new friends. And anticipating that this particular Christmas in the year of COVID might be more depressing than ever, I set out to nip in the bud, any possibility of being down as December 25 approached. I recruited my friend Tonnie, and together we managed to get a group of friends together by social media and word of mouth, and we’ve to date sang Christmas carols to approximately 16 homes. We’ve had groups as small as 12, and as large as 22, and the response has been one of the biggest blessings of the year.
I’ve also been participating with three other women in an Advent Devotional study. Daily we text and encourage one another and share what we’re learning, and how God is using the study to change, and stretch, and grow us. I love hearing from them and texting back and forth throughout my busy days. It’s a GOOD distraction, because it helps to remind me of my priorities. I’m so thankful for these women.
I’ve heard it said that the best way to stop feeling sorry for yourself, is to find some way to start serving others. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s true! Tonight after we sang at one particular woman’s home, she shared with us how difficult it is just to button her blouse. Her severely arthritic hands have made everything just so difficult, but she stood in the cold on her porch to share with us some wisdom about forgiveness. What a blessing. We all really just need each other so much. We just really do.
It’s been a year for me of witnessing people just give and give of themselves. I was the recipient during my COVID nursing days of so much prayer and care, and was the recipient again while I recovered from surgery. And it didn’t end there. Even while I was learning my new job as a home hospice nurse, there were examples on almost a daily basis. One gal I now work with named Paula had $25 worth of bubble wrap sent to her patient, because she knew they loved to pop those little bubbles. She’s right where she belongs, setting examples for me.
It’s December 12 and I feel the great joy of Christmas more than I ever have in the past. It’s been all of the people who have cared for and loved me in this year who have modeled servanthood to me. And! Reminded me of the best gift we’ve all ever been given – the Son of God coming into this world in order to reconcile us to the Father. You can’t put that in a box, and you can’t wrap that or put a bow on it. It’s a gift like no other.
The things that matter most can’t be boxed, wrapped, or bowed. Of all years, it’s most evident in the year of COVID. So what really matters? Kids learning just how much fun it is to go Christmas caroling instead of sitting home watching video games. Tiny cups of hot chocolate. It matters that those unable to attend church know that they are not forgotten. Christmas cards and singing in the rain, lap blankets generously made by a senior citizen for Paula and I to pass out to our patients, Christmas cookies, phone calls, pretty cards, and yes, even Paula’s bubble wrap. And what matters most of all is the gift of my Savior, Jesus, and that brings me not just joy, but great joy!