Friday, December 21, 2007

Footsteps of the Faithful (Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer)

Our family of five is leaving very late this evening for our South Carolina/Georgia jaunt... two days of driving, 5 days of visiting both my and my husband's family (various siblings, their spouses, our nieces and nephews, aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents) - it will be hectic, it will be exhausting, it will be loving...

Some traditions have been retired and others newly-begun - change isn't better or worse... it's just different. We've gracefully put our nuclear family needs on the proverbial back burner to pay tribute to "the big picture". Since we're the long-distance relatives, it only makes sense for us to venture northward, even if only once a year - conversations flow and comfortable silences abound, and we hug enough to last until the following year.

My sister Mari and I drink wine and listen to my latest holiday mix Christmas Eve while we're making the strada (which has to sit overnight) - it is always my husband's job to grate the cheese. My older children play with cousin Julia (M's daughter) - my brother Brad and my brother-in-law Bill talk sports, all the while my mom glows with love and appreciation that we are all under the same roof.

Julia will wake us up entirely too early to see if Santa has arrived (although, at 11, she's clued in) - presents will overflow from under the tree, and Mr. Claus will have gifted everyone as well. Sometimes he slips something into a stocking that the receipient is not expecting (like the gorgeous bracelet from my husband last year) - we ooh and ahh over each unwrapping, taking the time to cherish (just as the time was taken to choose the perfect gift).

The rituals with my husband's family are different, yet equally comforting - it will be especially difficult this year, considering his father's passing only a month or so ago...

Many things have not gotten done this year, and I'm reconciled to the fact - I'm working harder at taking better care of myself... which means I'm trying to get more sleep... which means I really miss those hours between midnight and 3 a.m. when I do my best work! Cards are late... but the love that remains in my heart for the endurance of friendship and family never wanes...

When I got home from work this evening, I passed out gifts to our four immediate neighboring houses - a group of boys came caroling, and the dog and I watched, listened and smiled... :-)

We're out of here in the next 10 minutes - much love to all and I'll be in touch when we get back in town... <3

SONG: Footsteps of the Faithful by Dave Carter

Southern Christmas Literary Classics of the Holidays by Judy Long, Thomas Payton (Editors)

POEM: Written on Christmas Eve, 1513 by Fra. Giovanni

I salute you. I am your friend,
and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not.

But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it,
you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts
find rest in it today. Take heaven!

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden
in this present little instant.
Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow.

Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory in darkness,
could we but see. And to see, we have only to look.
I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver.
But we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.

Remove the covering, and you
will find beneath it a living splendor,

woven of love by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch

the angel's hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty,
believe me, that angel's hand is there.
The gift is there and the wonder of

an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too,
be not content with them as joys.

They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose,
so full of beauty beneath its covering,
that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage then to claim it; that is all!
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are
pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.

And so, at this time, I greet you,
not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem and with the prayer
that for you, now and forever,
the day breaks and shadows flee away.

QUOTE: "For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home." ~ W.J. Ronald Tucker

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