Christmas is my most favorite holiday of the year. I love everything about it. I love the tree and lights, the ornaments collected/made over the years and all the memories they bring back. I love the smells of cinnamon and cloves, while baking Christmas treats. I love gift giving and surprising someone I care for with something special.
Most of all I love the season of Advent, preparing for the Lord to be born. Taking that time to be quiet and contemplate the enormity of the coming of Jesus.
Christmas is when love comes down from heaven, to meet me in this time and place, accepting me as I am right here and now. Love comes down to show me that I was worth His sacrifice on the cross. My Savior loved me so much, He was born as a baby in a manger without any advantages in life but parents who loved Him and yet He changed the world through His sacrifice.
I remember almost every Christmas since I was a little girl, sitting in Mass as the bells rang and the choir sang that Jesus was born. We had come to adore him. I would cry I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that He loved me so much, that He would give everything up for me, a sinner. I still get weepy sitting in church surrounded by lit Christmas trees, poinsettias and the creche telling the story of a baby born in a stable.
Last night we put up our tree. My boys are both allergic to pine trees so we have an artificial tree. I twisted and threaded 1050 colored lights on for my Courtney. You see, Courtney is cortically blind, so she can only see bright light in the midst of darkness. Her favorite thing is when we turn off all the lights and just have the tree lit. She smiles and laughs and stares for hours. It’s like a rainbow of love sparkling just for her.
It is a very special moment for Jerry and I as we sit with our girl watching the tree. Last night, she had a really bad seizure and fell asleep before I was done with the lights. So this morning, it was cloudy out which meant the living room was darker than usual, so we turned on the lights for her.
She smiled and hummed. She laughed and hummed. She stared at that tree for quite some time. As I held her in my arms I realized what a miracle this moment was. This will most likely be her last Christmas with us this side of heaven. I say “most likely” because I always leave room for God to create a miracle.
It was very bittersweet. I have really come to appreciate the meaning of that word. There is hardship with accepting God’s plan for Courtney, but such sweetness in the moment of having her still here with us. She is 69 pounds and falling. Her seizures come without warning and go on for quite some time. Sometimes she stops breathing, other times not. Each day she smiles is a great day for me. Each moment I get to hold her, sing to her, pray over her…is a moment that I am ever so thankful for.
There is great joy in these days. I want to remember it all. The feeling of Courtney’s body snuggled into mine. The sound of her laughter. The sunshine of her smile and how it changes everything. The up and down of her chest and she breathes deeply in her sleep. The way she holds my hand and curls her toes when she has her socks put on.
I know there are many “lasts” to be experienced but we have been so incredibly blessed with twenty two years with Courtney, I refuse to dwell on the sad. This young woman continues to teach us how to love without hesitation. She teaches us what serving God looks and feels like. She is the heart of our home and we are better for it.
So Happy Advent my friends. May the coming weeks being peace and comfort to you and those you love most. May God’s love shine brightly in your hearts. May you know that you are loved without question, right where you are. You are worth it. ALL of it.