Imagine the scene:
It's Christmas Eve. I'm driving home from the hospital, where I've spent the day with Little Brother. I know that I will not have my baby home with me on Christmas Day. Big Brother is at Grandma's house, and I need to stop at the grocery store to get salad to bring to Grandma's house the next day, as well as something for me and The Hubs to eat for dinner. I pull into the grocery store parking lot, preoccupied with too many thoughts to notice that it is pretty bare. Yes, the grocery store is closed and I'm sorry that I won't be able to bring the salad to Grandma's house for Christmas dinner, but I'm glad for the employees who get to go home and be with their families.
Weary. Worn. Weak.
I drive through at a local fast food chain, acquiring burgers, fries and shakes for The Hubs and me for dinner. We NEVER do this. But hey. It's Christmas Eve and there is little to no food in the house, and so I plunk down over eighteen dollars for the convenience of artery-clogging semi-food.
When I arrive home, The Hubs is ecstatic over my choice of dinner (you might say that I'm the healthy eater of the family) and informs me that It's A Wonderful Life has just started on TV. So, we pull out the TV trays and munch on our food while we watch.
For the first time in my life, I cry as I see George Bailey cry, begging to live again. I cry again when all of the people George's life has touched congregate at his house to help him in his time of need.
I cry, because as I watch those black-and-white faces on the television screen, I see the faces of the people I know in the here and now, as they congregate to help me in my time of need.
I see the dozens of coworkers who took up a gift card collection for my family. A whole basket full of gift cards, cash and checks from people who love us because they do.
|The basket of gift cards from my co-workers|
I see the faces of friends who anonymously took up a collection and left a cashier's check to help pay for medical bills. I still carry the envelope around with me in my purse because I just can't seem to throw it away.
I see the faces of friends who selflessly cooked meals for weeks and delivered them to us.
I see the faces of my in-laws, who are so much more than in-laws to me now, who watched Big Brother so that I could be with Little Brother.
I see the face of the beloved friend who took me to the hospital when I couldn't drive after surgery, who went to the grocery store for me, who did my dishes, who prayed and texted and emailed and made sure I was okay.
I see the face of the other friend who sent me mail EVERY SINGLE DAY because she couldn't be there with me in person.
I see the faces of the dozens of other friends who called, texted, emailed, sent cards and letters and made hospital visits and who prayed and prayed and PRAYED for us.
When the movie is over, The Hubs and I look at each other and we both have tears in our eyes. When we go to bed that night, we feel blessed. It truly is a wonderful life.
The next morning, it is Christmas, and we are going to the hospital to visit Little Brother before we go to Grandma's house to pretend to have Christmas just like every year. It isn't Christmas because Little Brother isn't there. It just isn't. But we pretend. We put those smiles on our faces and we snuggle Little Brother and as we drive away, we keep those smiles on our faces. As we drive to Grandma's house and I hope that no one notices that I forgot to bring the salad, we talk about the movie from the night before.
"We should watch It's A Wonderful Life every Christmas Eve," says The Hubs. "It should be our tradition."
I get warm fuzzies because I love things like this. "I agree," I reply. After a pause, I say, "I feel like all of the people who have helped us through this time are like the townspeople and we're like the Baileys."
The Hubs nods his head and says, "Yeah, but I don't feel like I deserve to have such good friends."
I know what he means. There is a certain humility that comes with receiving abundant blessing and knowing that we have done nothing to deserve it. I nod and say, "I agree - we haven't been as good of friends to these people as they are being to us."
As we drive, we sit there in silence. I think about how tough life is. It is disappointing, and yet... we would never have known how deeply we were loved without the tough spot. And while I'm not yet mature enough to be grateful to go through trials, I am grateful to God for those who love us enough to sacrifice for us. No, it doesn't feel like Christmas, and I don't want to be celebrating. Yet, here I am, receiving gifts from Him through other people. Being loved just because.
And I am grateful.