|Dear Helen, on Christmas morning.|
So we stuck with no gift giving outside of our immediate family. BUT We are not bound by rules... and so when our son in Europe found himself travelling alone, we shared the cost of a contiki tour. And when we heard that our niece, who lives overseas, is back in Australia with her sister - we bought a ticket for our daughter to fly over to see her cousins - so the girls can be together again, the first time in YEARS. And no we are not cashed up, but we don't buy the latest cars, or buy into the idea that we need the latest gadgets, and yes our house needs repairs. And our eldest son came home unexpectedly (and leaves today on Boxing Day) - so we put together a pamper pack of all the worst food possible (not for me! Urgh) to take back with him (he is working on the wheat bins during his uni holidays).
Our greatest gift to our extended family was the wonderful, cruelty free lunch prepared by our teenage daughter. When we arrived at the garden at her grandparents apartment block, we found my father extremely stressed because the rest of the family wasn't there on time. He was worried about his blood pressure, and looked small and elderly (something I often forget) - and I wanted to say - this is not what Christmas is about. My father - who had been to church just a short time before, was upset about the trivial,on this remembrance day of the birth of his saviour... and so when the rest of the family arrived it felt strained. AND yet - the love my daughter had put into the food - vegan, mostly gluten free, and the grace with which she offered it to her family, calmed the atmosphere. This is what Christmas is about.
Riva and I had sat together as our priest Helen had shared a story about how everything has a crack. And as she sent us off with a blessing she said, "And may the God of love bring messengers of light to shine love through the cracks in your life today." And so he did.
And Helen gave me a gift... a holding cross carved by artisans from a single piece of wood pruned from the very olive wood trees that have scattered the landscape around Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. And a handmade card with a very meaningful and personal message. Dear Helen - a messenger of light shining love through the cracks in my life.