My mother often told the story of the Christmas when I was about 3 years old. That morning, I awoke in my pajamas with the flap in the back, trundled off to the bathroom, and realised as I sat on the toilet that it was Christmas Day. Being 3, I did not rest on ceremony, but jumped off the toilet, and ran to the front room of our small house. There I saw presents under the tree that had been left by Santa Claus. With my pajama drawers flapping in the breeze along with my self, I rushed in to my parents bedroom, yelling out: "He's been here."
I awoke at 4 am this morning, excited that today was Christmas. Unlike at age 3, I don't have back flap drawers any more, but for the first time in many, many years I am so excited about Christmas that I could almost burst. But, my excitement is not for Saint Nicholas, but for the Saviour of St. Nicholas, and of you and of me. He's Been Here, Jesus Christ, the baby in the manger, who grew up and gave himself as a ransom for ME, and YOU. HE'S BEEN HERE. I want to shout from the roof tops, or at least from the Blog Top.
This excitement started for me over a year ago. I remember the moment that it began. I had been in Arizona at our motor home by myself for about 7 weeks, and went to confession to one of the holiest men that I have ever met, Fr. Clement Agamba at Our Lady of Fatima parish, before coming home. He is from Ghana, and has been a parish priest in Tucson for a few years. He has the most delightful smile on his face, that comes from this deep love he has for God. The grace that came through him from God to me during the sacrament was almost able to be touched, it was so real.
I have loved my wife through our challenging marriage and before, but I was never in love with her. I had never been in love with anybody, though I loved my kids, their mother, my parents, my dear wife etc. But, I was never in love. I loved God too, but I wasn't in love with Him either.
But, suddenly I was in love. The first person that I noticed I was in love with was my wife. I mean, I was ecstatically in love with her. I started to really notice how beautiful she is, how charming she is, how wonderful she is. This has built up over the last year. Now, I am over the moon in love with her. When I awake in the middle of the night I just want to hear her breathing. When I leave the house for some purpose, I can hardly wait to see her again.
When I had been going to daily mass in Tucson, there was an 80 or so year old couple Jimmy and Joanna who sat near me in church. At the sign of peace, Jimmy always calls Joanna "Deary" and looks with love into her eyes. That love of theirs was contagious. At the sign of peace, when my dear wife and I are in Church, I always touch her cheek, look into her eyes with all the love that I have, and kiss her lightly and lovingly. I call her my "dear" wife in this blog out of respect and reverence for her.
I also have fallen in love with our children and their loved ones, and our grandchildren. I love to hear their voices, and see their faces.
But, I have fallen most in love with the source of Love, the Holy Trinity. So, celebrating the birth of Jesus is now even more special to me than ever. Reba McEntire sang a song "Love isn't love" with the following chorus:
Love isn't love till you give it awayThat's what happened to us this year. We have been giving away our love. to each other of course, but to others. We started really getting Christmas in September, when we gave school bags filled with school supplies to poor kids, then gave quilts we made to the battered women's shelter, and place mats to Meals on Wheels.
Love isn't love till it's free
The love in your heart
Wasn't put there to stay
Oh love isn't love till you give it away
But, specifically for Christmas, we gave shoe boxes to a charity that sends them to third world countries so children will receive a reminder of God's love for them on Christmas Day. Also, we bought food hampers for 2 families through our Church, and for a third family, we bought a food hamper and lots of presents for all of the family members. The other night my dear wife told me that the nicest night of love making we have had in some time, was the night we listened to Christmas carols, while we poured ourselves a drink, and then wrapped up the presents for the family we were helping out. By the way, there was no sex involved, but I agree with my darling. It was wonderful. The best Christmas gift we got this year, was that a family in need allowed us the privilege of getting the food and gifts for them in their humility.
So, I awoke this morning feeling so blessed, so loved by God, and so in love with God and my dear wife that I could almost burst. In my mind, I can picture the family we supported, and hope that they feel 1/10th as blessed by our support as I feel having had the privilege of sharing the abundance that God has given to us.
Thank you God for the gift of love that you sent to us, in Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you Mother Mary for saying yes to the Father, and Thank you Jesus for coming into our hearts and lives.
May that gift of love that You gave us of yourself, burst forth from us all in this Christmas season, and throughout the year. I pray that that spirit of self giving love that you brought to us on the first Christmas Day will wash over all of us and our loved ones this day and every day of every year for the rest of our lives, until we come to join you in heaven. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the World.