While shaving and dressing on Christmas Eve morning, the radio was broadcasting some dramatic readings excerpted from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Thinking of Ebenezer and his business partner Jacob Marley, I mused that my wife and I had our own three spirits of Christmas visit us this year.
Christmas Past. December 23rd marked the 44th anniversary of my wife and I meeting for the first time. It was while Christmas caroling with a church group in Needham, Massachusetts when were both in high school. The Methodist church in town held a street caroling event, maybe annually, I’m not really sure. This was not my family’s church but a number of my friends attended. One of those friends, Chris Ryder, asked if I wanted to accompany him to a Christmas party one coming evening. A girl from his church invited him and did not mind if he brought along some friends. But the catch was we had to attend the caroling event that preceded the party at her house – just showing up at the party would have been tacky (What class my friend Chris had! He could separate tacky behavior from “we’re just dumb teens”). So we committed to the caroling and caught up to the crowd of adults, teens and kids in front of the Needham Fire Station. There was a wider group of friends from the church there and one introduced me to my future spouse that evening, on the sidewalk, under a dark and crisp sky, in the midst of Methodists’ caroling.
Christmas Present. We’ve been without a formal church home for sometime – about two years I calculate. When the gas prices shot up in mid 2008 the church we had been attending several towns and 45 minutes away just didn’t seem like the right home for us any longer. Because we were not part of that geographic community, it was difficult to connect with folks at times other than Sunday mornings. For those of you who know New England, finding a suitable church can be easier said than done. Plus, we were a bit burned out from past church involvement and just welcomed an opportunity to be attendees for a while instead of roll-up-your-shirtsleeves members. So we’ve “visited” a number of churches within a closer radius to our home. One church we attended on a Sunday last Spring didn’t seem like a good fit for us at the time; but we gave it a second chance before Thanksgiving and after several Sundays it’s beginning to feels more like a fit. We’re certainly happy that we have regained an enthusiasm to get up each Sunday morning and attend church. It has been a real blessing, and especially nice during this Advent season.
Christmas Future. In August of 2010 we were blessed with a grandson from our youngest daughter and her husband. Our first grandchild, so naturally these new grandparents can’t help thinking about new life and specifically of Caleb’s future. Just anticipating next Christmas and seeing it through a young child’s joy keeps us wondering out loud.