CHRISTMAS DAY…. Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 – Oh Christmas Tree!

CHRISTMAS DAY…. Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 – Oh Christmas Tree!

This year, Christmas was different. We had sold our house, Vincent wasn’t coming home for a second year, and, back in the summer, mom and dad had said they were “done with CT at Christmas time”. Of course, they were not quite “done” and they came for an early Christmas from Dec. 12 – 19th, but by then Vinnie and I had decided to spend Christmas in South Carolina! We drove down on the 23rd. Vincent met us at Mom and Dad’s for a couple of days and I announced that since I was in South Carolina for Christmas, I would have to spend it walking the beach at Hilton Head.

On Dec. 24th, Vincent was the only one who opened gifts on Christmas Eve morning at the breakfast table. That was different! Mom, Dad, Vinnie, Vincent, and I went to 4pm Mass on Christmas Eve in a local high school gymnasium. That was different! The priest saying mass was a visiting missionary priest who has spent most of his life in Africa. After the mass, I bought a set of beautiful beaded rosary beads hand-made by African women. That was different!  And then Vincent left by 7am on Christmas morning for  his 5 hour drive back to North Carolina since he had to work at 2pm. Mom, Dad, Vinnie and I had a quiet Christmas Day to look ahead to. That was very different!

So, on Christmas morning, the four of us got in the car and drove to Hilton Head. Three of us would walk the ocean beach for a couple of hours while one of us would spend that time reading a book while sharing a swinging park bench with a Korean lady (Guess who that was!)

About 20 minutes into our walk, we found our Christmas Tree!  Oh Christmas Tree!! As it lay flat out at the ocean’s edge, the palm leaves floated in the waves that came and went. Its roots and entire trunk stretched across the sandy shore. Perhaps a hundred or more people had stepped over it on that beautiful Christmas morning.

As we walked, it was simply amazing to me that the beach was filled with hundreds of people. These people passed us by on bikes or on foot saying “Merry Christmas” to us and to each other. There was a light, cheeriness in each interaction. Some people were throwing balls to running dogs or chasing children who were chasing seagulls. Others traced words in the wet sand with long sticks, while others tip-toed across the low tide to walk along the sandbar. The sunlight created a blinding shimmering light that seemed to stretch out for miles to the horizon.

My thoughts were pretty simple. I wished everyone I loved was with us walking along that beach to enjoy the stress-free nature that surrounded us. The ocean coming and going, just like the people, and just like the previous 365 days since Christmas of 2016. Vinnie and I acknowledged the fact that this  year, Christmas of 2017 was indeed different, not bad yet, not necessarily better; just simply different.

And in that difference, we found it was also intentionally peaceful.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy and healthy 2018!

 

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Sunday, April 16, 2017 – Happy Easter…AGAIN!

Sunday, April 16, 2017 – Happy Easter …..AGAIN!

Hands down, Easter is my favorite holiday. It is a time of renewal, rebirth, reenergizing. It marks the start of Spring and the start of the school-year-home-stretch!  It has always been a stress-free holiday for me with minimal expectations. Church, food, and family…that is about it!

AND…for 15 years, Easter includes Sunrise Service at Calf Pasture Beach for me! I only missed last year because I was in South Carolina surprising Mom for her birthday!

For 15 years, Clyna and I have stood in the cold, the rain, the sleet. We have clapped, sung hymns, and nodded our heads in the rhythm of the statement, “He has risen, indeed!”. I wept when the men from Pivot Ministries began singing on Easter morning several years ago, and I continue to get weepy every time these men stand before us in witness to God’s love and a renewed spirit and faith! They truly have been “saved” by the leaders of Pivot Ministries in Norwalk! And they are proud to be “risen, in deed, with the Risen Christ”. They are a reminder to me that my hardest day is someone’s easiest day…..and we are never alone in the journey we walk!

This year’s pastor who preached made an interesting point for me. He talked about the two disciples who RAN to the tomb. He pointed out that Easter is for the Believers. We are the ones who run to the Risen Christ; we know God because we already believe. He was very sincere when he said, therefore, “Don’t drag the non-believers to Church on Easter. Easter is for the Believers! Wait till Pentecostal Sunday to drag the non-believers!”  Listening to him made me feel alright knowing none of my kids would be going to Easter Mass, except for Vincent who was filming a Sunrise Service in North Carolina for work! He and I were at Sunrise Service together, although we were standing 15 driving-hours apart!  As a Believer, I was happy to be there for Sunrise Service feeling blessed that I had been given another year on my life’s journey!!

So this year, was not a “first” in the true sense….but in fact, it was a first that Barb joined me, Clyna, Lisa, and Aunt Ann. AND…it was a first that it was almost 65 degrees at 7am at the beach! A simply gorgeous way to start off Easter!

So in this year of “firsts” for 2017 where I am aiming to live more intentionally by doing something, each week, that I have never done before, technically I can not count this Easter Sunrise Service as a “true first”; However, for me….EVERY EASTER IS A FIRST.  It is a new Springtime beginning with new goals for myself. A “reset” in my life where I evaluate what I do and who I do it for and with. It is the “restart button” that I usually start praying for somewhere between November and January when life seems a little bit heavier and the Spring is hard to see on the horizon!

As I stand facing the water at Calf Pasture Beach every Easter morning, I am reminded of the family and friends I love, those I have lost, and I know , because the His promise of eternal life, I will see  again. And, I am humbled as I am reminded of the man, who is at the center of my faith, who gave His life for me.

Happy Easter Everyone!  May you always feel Blessed….and Believe!