Thinking of Thanksgiving and Advent


It has been almost two weeks since the U.S. Thanksgiving but I am still thinking about my thankfulness this year. I’m still thankful for those things close, my day-to-day world. I have a wonderful family with lots of grandchildren and even four great-grandchildren, two who are celebrating their first birthdays. I’m so thankful for the joy each and every one of them brings to my life. I’m thankful that Jim and I made good decisions in our earlier years, living below our means as our incomes increased so we could build our retirement funds. I’m thankful that we can afford to have a comfortable lifestyle while still able to help children and grandchildren as they need it. I’m grateful for our gathering last week-end to celebrate Lona’s first birthday, for the great food presented by daughter-in-law Natalia. I’m grateful that Jim and I are still relatively healthy in our mid-seventies and anticipate with great joy the coming together of our children, and their children, and a fourth generation child on Christmas Eve. I’m thankful for the friends of our children who will join us so that we have the blended chorus of phrases spoken in both English and Russian, and laughter that binds people together across cultures and ages.

Yes, I am thankful for the people who are a part of my life story, the people who make up my personal world. But this isn’t what I’ve been thinking about as I have been moving from Thanksgiving Day into the season of Advent. I can feel my mind and soul working hard to grapple with my emotional turmoil, to prepare my heart, mind and soul for the coming of the Christ Child, struggling to gain a greater understanding of what the Advent of the Christ Child means for how I live my life.

I’m in the 50% to 60% of the people who believe that our country, our democracy, is in great peril. This is a frightening time for me and I feel a responsibility to keep abreast of the daily news. What I am thankful for, from the bottom of my heart and with all my mind, are journalist. Even though they are verbally assaulted and receive death threats on a regular basis, they still go after the story. They are diligent in making sure their information is verified by multiple sources, sources they have nurtured by being honest and trustworthy with the sources. I am thankful for professional organizations and news outlets that take truth in reporting very seriously and sanction those who don’t abide by the ethical standards of journalism. Consequently, journalists take the responsibility to relay truth and be honest about their own bias very seriously as they report information (we all have them and must all be aware of our bias when evaluating information). And they persevere in searching for the truth, raking through the muck, sorting through the messiness of conspiracy theories and fake news. When I have to take a news break I wonder how they persevere.

Yes that is what I’m thankful for, but what does it mean as I move through Advent? If I am to celebrate Advent with integrity, it seems like I should explore what it means to believe in the coming of the Christ Child, to believe, trust, and live by what I have learned from the story of Jesus’ life on earth.

As I sit here struggling for words that heal and guide me, all I feel is deep anger… no rage – in response to the lying and the bullying that has taken place in our government over the past week, the past three years. I want to fight back. I want to write in such a way that my words make a difference. I want my words to land on ears that are open to hearing so my words touch hearts and change behavior. I want to scream Elijah Cummings words, “We are better than this.”



Let there be Light

christmas lights 017

Our son brought up our pre-lit Christmas tree last week, before he picked us up at the airport. He thought I might want to decorate it for our family Thanksgiving at our house. I think this child in his late 40’s still gets excited about Christmas because he already had a gift wrapped and under the tree. I thanked him but wasn’t ready to decorate.

I had been frustrated with how the materialism of Christmas was sneaking up to overtake Thanksgiving. I wanted to keep Thanksgiving for thanks giving. And then my sister died three days before Thanksgiving. Last week my mind was able to do the gymnastics of tumbling between a happy holiday feast with most of our family and the grief of my/our loss. But that is so tiring – being in the two realities of joy and pain.

I’ve turned on the tree lights most days. I’m enjoying the symbolism of this light in my livingroom. For those of us who have chosen to believe that Jesus came to earth as an infant in order to fulfill the Jewish prophesy of a savior, these lights symbolize the coming of our Light in the darkness of the world. These lights remind me of the purpose of Advent – to anticipate the coming of true joy. It is a time of preparation, as I prepare my heart and decorate my home for His coming.

I’m not feeling the excitement quite yet – instead I’m experiencing a very quiet, gentle transition. The ache in my heart longs for and is experiencing the comfort I receive from my faith. But the pain is still there because that is a part of loving and losing. I look forward to our Christmas celebration and I’m preparing with the purchasing of gifts and making of plans with family members. As I make that death walk once again, my heart is also reaching for the joy of living. Living in both worlds means that I’m not overcome with grief nor able to fully engage in the excitement. That is okay for now, because that is where I am.

The lights on my Christmas tree are keeping me centered. They are reminding me that although a part of my life has died, there is a new day with renewed life for me right now. And when I am ready I will be able to celebrate Christmas totally without disrespect for the lost life within my sister.

This post found it’s inspiration in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Let there be Light. To see more interpretations, click on this link: