Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Day Dinner

It was a different Christmas because our family met on the 23rd. What a wonderful time we had! The little ones had been counting the "sleeps" before they could open the presents that were stashed under Grammies tree. After dinner, it was precious to watch our six year-old granddaughter bring nativity characters to life as the old story was read.

Our Family Christmas Day was over! Now what?
So we enjoyed visits with people who did not have family nearby and brought leftover turkey and trimmings to a sick neighbour.

Looking beyond my comfortable home and space, I see so much hurt, need and pain.
God, please forgive my blinded eyes.
Scripture encourages us not to forget the needy, widows and orphans.

My cousins, Don & Diane, are orphans and have often been forgotten. Their father died when they were very small. Their mother, my aunt, was a hard worker and tried as best she could to raise them, but I am ashamed to say, she did not get much help and support from her extended family. Her parenting consisted of much shouting, slapping, verbal and physical abuse. She remarried which added many other negative family dynamics. This second husband died very suddenly and now they were on their own again. A few years later, she also passed away.

Diane had back/spine surgery and has had difficulty finding a job. She was married, has one daughter, but her marriage ended in divorce. Her common-law husband of ten years, just passed away very suddenly, and she was devastated, so I helped her plan a memorial service for him. Even though she is not physically strong, I admire her amazing strength and courage.

Don was married for ten years, but his wife left him. He has asperger syndrome, which makes him very nervous, agitated, impulsive and exasperating. Constant ridicule and some childhood sexual abuse has left him with bouts of depression and emotional scars. He has worked as a restaurant dishwasher for 25 years. Since they both don't drive, commuting from the city to visit relatives is difficult, therefore many times they have been left out or forgotten.
Their social circle is small. Both are trying to trust God for their future and struggle to "keep the faith" inspite of lifes disappointments and hurts.

On Christmas Day, my husband and I packed up a dinner, picked up Diane, went to Don's cluttered apartment and shared a meal with them. He excitedly tried to clean his kitchen (no running water at the kitchen sink) and prepared mashed potatoes and "well-charred ham".

He kept giving me gifts from his hoarded stash of collectibles. "Here, I want you to have this"......a turquoise necklace and earrings, an old CD, a wooden goose, a silver chain, etc. etc. Over and over we heard, "You are my favorite cousins, I love you."

Needless to say, it was a most memorable,unforgettable Christmas dinner.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


When the boxes of Japanese/Mandarin oranges appear in our stores, we know Christmas is nearing. This reminds me of a poignant story.

Ten boys lived in a small orphanage. It was their only home, a roof over their heads, their only family. The house rules were strict; each lad knew his duties and paid careful mind to obey the rules. Food was meager and carefully rationed, especially fresh fruit.
The boys' very favorite highlight of their drearisome life was Christmas and the greatest treat of all was that on Christmas morning every boy got one orange.

The day before Christmas, Harry was working in the yard, but neglected to clean his boots upon entering the house, tracking mud onto the front hall carpet. The angry headmaster meted out immediate punishment. "No orange for you tomorrow morning!"
At dawn, while his friends enjoyed their delicious fruit, the dejected lad wept bitterly as he lay on his cot till evening. All year he had waited for this one orange. The other lads had kept their distance for fear that he would beg a taste of theirs. At evening he knelt in the darkness, on the cold hard floor beside his bed, trying to say his prayers, but words wouldn't come, only moans and tears of disappointment and hurt.

Suddenly he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder and a soft lump was placed in his hand. Hesitatingly, he began to unwrap the crunched paper and in it were orange peels, carefully taped together in the shape of a ball. He started to nibble at the tart, bitter pieces. As they fell apart, inside were nine orange pieces.
Each boy had given up one small delicious segment, just for him.

I hope this ORANGE story will be a reminder to share from our abundance with those who have so little.