Friday, December 21, 2012

A Collage of Christmas Memories by Linda Maynard

This collage of memories of Christmas has, as many of you, I’ve had, joy filled moments and those that are tinged with sorrow and pain. Both ends of the spectrum touch us all.

Topping my list would be a meaningful tradition that was and still is observed. It sharing of the Oplatek (Oh-pwa-tech) on Christmas Eve. It is a Polish Tradition.

During the evening, the oldest of the family, has a plate with the Oplatek  (the wafer). The Oplatek symbolizes Christ’s body being broken for us. They approach another person and extend the Oplatek to them. Speaking words of affirmation and blessing, they break the wafer simultaneously. They each, then partake of it. The recipient returns the gesture. This is repeated until the entire group has blessed one another.

Losing a loved one around Christmas is extremely painful. The families of the recently murdered innocents in the Newtown CT massacre have an unspeakable horror to deal with. It will forever taint their Holidays. I lost a brother and a son due to tragic deaths, close to Christmas and the emptiness remains.  Others have lost loved ones and memories may be bittersweet. 

When I was old enough, to be able to purchase gifts for my youngest brothers, I carved out a memory. The circumstances in our home were such that, we did not get gifts from our parents or Santa. I wanted them to be able to return to school to have something to say, when gifts were discussed.

One year, my paternal grandfather would be home alone on Christmas Eve, as he was ill. I couldn’t accept that he would be alone, so I volunteered to be with him, forgoing the celebration. It filled me with the satisfaction of putting the needs of another, first.

Sometimes, too much food, unrealistic expectations, unhealed relationships, fueled by too much to drink, could taint the hoped for Silent Night. Too many families experience this. I praise God for the healing in my own family, as well as a prayer that others can experience freedom and peace that comes with New Life.

In recent years, my husband and my family have been involved in certain clandestine operations, to bless others around the Holidays.

When our children were young, we filled bags with presents and goodies and left them, without tags, on doorsteps or on mailbox hooks, as a way to say to others, “You are not forgotten.”

We have sent cards, including money, with the signature line, saying “Jesus loves you”

In the last 2 years, I have taken 3- $20 and went out in public to give a $20 bill to 3 people. It was a Giving Adventure.  At first, I thought the amount that I was giving was too little, but then realized we were giving what we could.

 I asked God to point out the people He wanted to bless.

The first year, I remember a young mother who got tears in her eyes. She was paying for her groceries and exclaimed “You have no idea what this means!” (But God did!)

Two other recipients from last year come to mind.

One was a disheveled man. At the counter of a store, he had asked for a product. The cashier misunderstood him. When the item was placed on the counter, he sheepishly tried to tell her of her error. She treated him with disdain and loudly criticized him. I and the other shoppers just looked at one another with disbelief.

When he left the line, I went over to him and handed him a $20 bill, telling him about the Lord wanting to bless him. I also mentioned that the Lord specifically pointed him out to me. I told him how much the Lord loved him. Though I will never know this man’s full story, but from appearances, I gathered his life was not easy.

Another day, a couple was behind me in line at Goodwill. Thrift Stores

 As I started to leave, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit; to give the next $20 to them They were Spanish. The man spoke with the little English that he knew. I tried to explain to him the best I could that this was a free gift, with no strings attached. He looked puzzled, but eventually accepted the money. He then kind of bowed to me.

I walked to my car, but soon realized that I had to go back. I wanted them to understand that this gift was from God. So with a little Spanish, that I know and lots of hand gestures, I pointed to my heart to their hearts and then to the sky…they got it!

Then they nodded and smiled and we ALL started to cry!

It became a Holy Moment in this thrift store.

Somehow, I can imagine that the Lord did the same. He nodded, smiled and even start to weep.

He may have then said to the angels about all of us.

 “They get it! By golly, they really get it!”

“They got a glimpse of my Love.”

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