Friday, December 9, 2011

The Greatest Gift

Penny Darlene Wills

One year ago, I awoke excited to face the day. It was December 3, 2010. We were planning our Ladies Christmas Fellowship for that evening. We were planning an evening to bring something happy and positive into some of these ladies lives; something that would give them hope, laughter, put a new song in their heart. It is a busy time of year getting ready for Christmas. We spent months preparing for that evening, trying to put a program together that would bless the ladies hearts.

Yes, we have all heard the Christmas story, frontwards, backwards and every story in between. Some are stories which touch the heart. This time of year can be very difficult for people. Not every one's life is bright and rosy. Some people are living alone, their children are grown or even gone. Some families are coping with divorce and their family unit is split apart. Other's are mourning the death of a loved one. Some people have no home, no food.

Christmas time can bring back the memories of old. Being a child and having that anticipation of opening presents, seeing loved ones come together. Mom's home baked cookies, salads and turkey dinner.

The Christmas songs play on the radio and throughout the malls. Songs like, "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" sung by Nat King Cole. or  Elvis singing, "I'll have a Blue Christmas Without You". You are shopping and walking along in the store. A song plays loud over the speaker. You pause for a moment, thinking of the memory. Oh I miss those childhood years. For a moment, you may even feel sad because the memories remain but many of our loved ones in those memories from Christmases long ago, are gone too.

Here I am. It is December 9, 2011, a year later. We have been planning yet another Ladies Christmas Fellowship. I remember well the phone call I received on this day last year. The phone call that changed our lives. My dear younger sister Penny suddenly passed away on that day. I spent most of the day by her side, along with our mother, my niece and a few friends and family.

It puts an entirely new spin on Christmas when you lose a loved one. We had lived through it before years ago, when my sister in law Sue was suddenly killed when a drunk driver ran her down. It was two weeks before Christmas. Santa still came that year. I was nine years old. I opened Sue's present to me on that Christmas morning. She gave me a real 10kt gold ring with my initials on it. All I could do was cry. Yes it was a long time ago. You know what? I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday. Life is not all sad. We have enjoyed many Happy Christmases since.

Why am I telling you this? Do I want you to throw me a big crying towel? No. However, life can change on a dime. In the blinking of an eye your life, my life can be flipped upside down. We have all experienced these flipping moments. We survived them and maybe learned a thing or two about life, about God. We take our experiences whatever they have been and we help others who are feeling what we have felt, that sorrow, loneliness, emptiness. We reach out our strong arms and give a sincere hug, wipe a tear, give a smile, share a laugh, bring some comfort, live in peace and be a gift to others. That is what we do at Christmas because that is exactly what Jesus does for us. He does it in so many different ways. We may not even recognize these moments. Perhaps you have been entertained by an angel, unaware.

Penny now has a tomb stone which says, "Our Little Angel". Yes I did whisper in her ear a year ago today. "Penny I love you. You are going to see Jesus now" I held her little hand and kissed her cheek before I walked out of the room. I felt that I had to go and help with the Christmas Ladies Fellowship. Twenty minutes after I left her, Penny walked into the loving Arms of Jesus Christ her Saviour. She received the Greatest Gift of All, Christmas Love. Note: If you flip the m in "Christmas Love" - upside down - you get "Christ was Love".  God's Gift to us.

Merry Christmas Penny