Happy New Year!

Christmas lasts about one week here in The Gilgers Compound. Along with the rest of the world, we do the Christmas morning thing with the kids and the presents. Topped off with a fantastic ham, mashed potatoes, green beans and pecan pie kinda meal, Christmas Day is nothing short of typical and wonderfully relaxing. Especially this year when I can’t do anything and must rely on my mother and Andy to do all the work. Then, we have the Gilger version of Christmas when the Canadians descend and we have another round of gift giving and whirlwind eating. This year was weirder than last, you’ll have to ask me later what I mean by that, but it became painfully obvious that the elder generation in this family is really starting to lose touch with their children. As dementia and stress set in, Andy’s parents seem to be trying harder and harder to please us with their gifts, and can’t seem to figure out who we are and what we’d like anymore. It is melancholy and sad. It is now truly the thought that counts.

New Year’s Eve is now upon us. This will be the biggest meal of the year. Our traditional Chinese Hot Pot. I know there are those of you that are on the waiting list for this meal. Let this be our practice run, and then we’ll have you over. If we were in Hong Kong, it is possible we would be eating outdoors. I remember as a child eating at makeshift outdoor restaurants. Strings of bare lightbulbs surrounding dozens of round tables with bubbling woks in the center. We’d wear our coats and eat this two hour meal outside.

New Year’s also calls for resolutions, I suppose. I don’t make them because I never keep them, but it’s a nice idea. If I was to resolve something this year, it would be to live more simply than I do now. Not that I want to change my lifestyle, but maybe my thinking in some ways. I will never be all that plain, but it wouldn’t hurt me to simplify. I’ll start with throwing out (or freestyling) all the stuff I haven’t used in the past year. I’ve got a few weeks worth of time on my hands.

Check with me in a month or so to see how I did.


Reflections on Christmas

Christmas is only about three days away now. My kids are really antsy, anticipating the fun of Christmas morning and opening presents. They were well prepared ahead of time that this year we would be doing things a little differently now that Mommy will be lying on the couch, recliner or in bed most of the time. But, they still are so excited that it’s almost making them irritable.

We each year want so badly for Christmas celebrations to focus on the joyous birth of Christ and the coming of salvation through Him. We find we must remind ourselves that the holiday is about the virigin birth and not about gifts and eating cookies. As Christians we act almost pious when we say that we are “focusing more on the true meaning of Christmas” instead of the hustle and bustle of the holiday. But there is absolutely no way, short of going to live in a yurt in Mongolia for a month, that we can separate the secular traditions of winter holidays around the world with the celebration of the birth of Christ.

Do you think that God REALLY cares? Do you think that when Christ was born quietly and humbly in a stable with only a few very smart men and lucky shepherds at his side…do you think God was hoping that someday someone would decide we should have this big party and ceremony to celebrate this quiet birth? Do you think he intended for it to be a big deal? I don’t. I don’t think He intended for ceremony to get in the way of what it’s all about. And now, there is no great distinction between the Santa Claus version of Christmas (which is also based on some facts) and the Bible version of Christmas (which is also based in facts.)

However, I sometimes think that God is exceedingly happy that we use Christ’s birth as an excuse for getting together with friends and family. As an excuse for exchanging gifts, putting aside differences, for eating a great big fat meal together. As an excuse to decorate our homes for winter and bring cheer to the bleak winter landscape with our holly and ivy! I don’t think he cares too much that we go overboard on spending for our children (if we can) and spoil each other a little. I don’t think he’s keeping track. After all….Jesus Christ was born to bring LOVE back into the world. If he can do that by giving two “non believers” a reason to go to a party and exchange gifts with each other, then GREAT! If he brought LOVE back by reconciling a daughter with her family over turkey dinner, then, that’s what he wanted to do, right? If a kiss under the mistletoe is what makes my heart full of love for once, then Jesus came for that, didn’t he? I personally think St. Nicholas was a really awesome guy! He had the right idea. He loved people.

I want my children to celebrate the birth of Christ right along with me. But, I don’t want to exhaust myself trying to explain what advent is or make myself feel guilt over having a really fun time with the holiday either. I love shopping, baking cookies and wrapping presents. I love bringing greens inside and decorating a tree with silly little sentimental trinkets. I love mistletoe and egg nog and sleigh rides and jingle bells. And I am pretty sure that Christ doesn’t care that I like all that stuff. I think he’s having fun trying to keep up with my swirling thoughts. I think we should have this great winter holiday and call it just that. A “winter holiday” and keep it as wild and crazy and flamboyant as possible.

Then, I think we should solemnly and quietly celebrate the birth of Christ. We should have candlelight services with carols and scripture and prophesy read. We should shout “hallelujah” just as I am sure the angels did. Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on Earth. Then, bring ourselves as gifts to the altar before the Christ. We should talk about nothing else but the birth of Christ around our dinner tables and read the scripture stories over and over to our children for a week. The one from the Bible, not Jotham’s Journey or the story as viewed by the mouse under the hay. Teaching them, and teaching eachother, how great LOVE entered the world that day. How from that humble cry, that nursing baby, came light and hope and love everlasting. That without that baby boy, we would have no reason to live. Pour out our hearts to our kids about the love we know and how we have come to know it. No fluff, no fuss, no gifts, no trees, just celebration in it’s rawest form. Then we should be done and begin to look towards Easter with anticipation.

And I think we should do that in March or some other equally quiet month when no other holidays clutter the calendar! Then, and only then, might it really mean what it should.

A Month to Ponder Life

So, tomorrow I trust the doctors with my body while I sleep through a fairly violent surgery I think. Apparently I need a cardiothoracic surgeon to help out my neurosurgeon since there are too many major blood vessels to contend with on the way to my spine! Thank God for insurance, since this is likely a $100,000 morning without a doubt.

I am terrified. Not of the surgery, I know that’ll be great, but of the recovery. After coming home I have to be so very very careful not to screw up everything that the good doctors have tried to fix. No lifting, driving, bending, carrying, turning or pulling anything incorrectly for at least a month. So that means, I need a babysitter for myself and I am at the mercy of anyone that loves me enough to get me out of the house.

I am NOT a good sit-down kinda person. I won’t be able to work for a month, which besides the financial strain that will place on us, will likely make me totally insane!

Oh, well….it will also fix the pain I have been in for over 13 years now and that will all be worth it. I just wish my kids weren’t so worried.