This is my Christmas gift to you. This is not your typical Christmas writing and for some of you it may be hard to read. Please, stay with me. My Christmas wish for you is to feel the love that surrounds you, feel the peace of those who bring and have brought joy and love into your life, and for you to be able to experience the joy of celebrating and experiencing life.
The religions of the world have creeds, doctrines, and laws that the faithful must follow. People, not the Creator, create religions and their rules; the Creator has but one law, one creed, one doctrine – Love.
Many of these religions claim the bible as their governing document. When I read the bible (No, I am not trying to convert you. I love you just the way you are.) I do not see all the rules, I see one rule – love. When the religious leaders tried to trick Jesus, they asked Him what was the greatest commandment. They were expecting Him to pick one of the Ten Commandments over the other nine. Instead, He stated simply and elegantly the greatest commandment was to love God; the second greatest commandment was for us to love each other as we love ourselves. He said, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
There are no random acts in life, we are all connected, and we are all one family. Strangers are merely family we have yet to come to know. No life is a waste and good can come from all things, if only we have the eyes to see, ears to hear, and the heart to feel.
One of the things in life that we lament is fairness. Often we create rules and laws to insure fairness. But, if life were fair, no good person would ever die young. Some people believe that before we are born we choose the circumstances of our birth, life, and death, even to the point of who will be a part of our life. Stop and think about that for a moment – that is powerful.
If this is true then what we see as a loss is not a loss, but a sacrifice. A sacrifice our loved ones made for us. Sacrifice is something we should always be proud of, for in the act of sacrifice we do not lose that which is precious to us, we pass it on to those we love. Sacrifice is the noblest thing we do; it is what makes us human.
My grandfather lived to the age of 72 (I was 16 at the time). He wanted to live long enough to see me graduate high school and become a man (I was his oldest grandchild). But, this was his sacrifice for me. You see, I remember the many teachings of my grandfather even though, at the time, many of them I did not understand. As I moved into the world I pondered many of the things he said to me, but without my grandfather to tell me what to do, I had to make my own decisions for myself. Without my grandfather, I had to stand on my own in the world.
Each year on Facebook, I ask my Facebook friends this one question at Christmas time, “What was the first Christmas gift?” The answer is – a father’s love. God so loved the world that he gave his only son for the world. In my own personal faith we are all children of God (I am still not trying to convert you). Do, you see the sacrifice he made for us? No conditions, no selfishness He gave all. This is the love of a father. A love I had never known until the birth of my daughter Alexandra.
What of my daughter Alexandra? Her life was a mere 93 minutes. Yet, from this tiny girl came the greatest of all gifts. Alexandra passed on to me unconditional, total, unselfish love. I was 42 years old and had experienced many things in life both good and bad. Yet, I had never experienced a love that gives all and takes nothing. Without this gift from my daughter, Alexandra, I would never have been able to give the unconditional love of a father to my daughter Elizabeth, and so Alexandra passed on her gift of love to a little sister she never met.
My favorite author started one of his books with something he called “The Storyteller’s Creed,” it ends with, “… and I believe that love is stronger than death.” You see, life must end, but love does not. There are people in our lives whose hands we can no longer hold, whose hair we can no longer brush from their faces, whose warmth we can no longer feel in an embrace. Yet they are still with us, and they will always be with us as long as we have our memories; and as long as the love that we shared with those people still lives within us. That love will never die. This is the greatest gift, their last gift to us, the gift of their unconditional love.
Our last gift to them is to pass on their gift of love to others. There is however, one more part we need to conquer before we can share their love. Forgiveness.
When I learned to drive a car in driver’s education in high school, Mr. Henderson taught us to keep our eyes down the road in the middle of our lane. He said that we go where our eyes go. A great lesson for life, not just for driving. (Thank you Mr. Henderson).
Many of us have people we have not forgiven. By not forgiving people, we are keeping our eyes on that wrong from our past. Hate, anger, and hurt are a double-edge sword, the harm we think we are doing to others; we are really doing to ourselves and those we love. You see, we don’t forgive those people for their sake, but for our own and for the sake of those who love us. Until we can forgive, we are stuck in a past of hate, anger, and hurt.
We have to leave the past so that we may focus on the love we share and have shared with others. By doing this, we are then able to pass on the love that has been passed on to us. This is how we honor those who wait for us on the other side, through sharing their love with others, and we cannot share their love until we forgive.
This Christmas my wish for you is the gift of forgiveness, but I cannot give you this gift, nor can anyone else. It is a gift that only you, can give to yourself.
May you always feel joy, peace and love.
I have never dedicated a post to anyone before, but this week I would like to dedicate this post to my friend, Ed Horner. Besides being a good husband, father and friend, Ed was also one damn fine submarine sailor. Fair winds and following seas my friend.
2 responses to “My Christmas Gift to You”
Thank you for this post Joe. May you too find this season to be full of love and forgiveness, something as you say, we can only give ourself. Merry Christmas dear man. With love, Sheri
Mon Cheri if only I new at 21 what I know at 51. It is the people who are important.
Anyone who feels they need my forgiveness had it before they thought they needed it. Anyone I have wronged in anyway, I am sincerely and deeply sorry.
As for the love part I am surrounded by the best people I have ever had in my life. I am truely greatful and humbled by all of the people who have included me in their lives, neighbors, friends, family, and readers.
My Christmas wish for you is that all of your Christmas wishes have come true.