Ever since my mom died eight years ago, we have celebrated Christmas differently. Mom died in our New England home on December 22; the funeral was held on December 26 in Dallas. Mom's doctor had come to the house on Bill's birthday, December 16. He told us she was failing quickly and most likely would not live until Christmas. The weeks leading up to that time had been difficult and draining. I hadn't done any Christmas shopping. During those last few days, I spent a great deal of the time sitting in an arm chair next to my mother's bed. She slept most of the time, probably a result of the morphine the hospice nurses gave her. My brother, husband, kids and I were with her when her spirit left its earthly frame and joined her beloved Saviour and God.
We made all the necessary arrangements, booked our flights and packed our bags. We were at Mom's house in Dallas -- alone -- on Christmas Day. It was so strange to be in her house without her. Christmas had always been a joyous, busy, twinkling time at Mom's. She loved everything about the season and her joy was contagious. Her house was barren without her, a fact made even more desolate by the season.
We realized then that the best part of our Christmas celebrations always centered on faith and family. Presents are quickly forgotten, but family time stays vividly clear.
These days our celebrations are simple, yet full of love. The best things in life are, indeed, free.