As I sit here this morning the house is very quiet with the exception of  our radio playing very softly in the background. The old cuckoo comes out of the clock to break the silence periodically with his repeating “cuckoo” as he announces the time of day. After his announcement of time, the little edelweiss dancers (who always stand at the ready on our old clock) do their little dance and then the cuckoo rushes back into the clock, the doors close, and quiet resumes once again.

Some people find noise making clocks irritating but I don’t. I like the tick, tick, tick….the bong, bong, bong…..the cheerful music and dance….birds chirping or whatever else it is the clock uses to announce the passing of the hour. To me, the announcement is a reminder that time continues to march by and along with it marches my life. As the clock ticks away, each sound acts as a reminder to me that this life IS limited, I DO have an unknown expiration date, and I am reminded to make the most of every moment while I am still here. It is actually a good reminder of the miraculous blessing of being chosen by God to have this earth experience and I should not waste a second of it. We all hear about “living in the moment” so the cuckoo reminds me about how many moments have passed since his last announcement. Am I happy with how I have been spending these moments? For the most part, I can say yes.

Al has left to take down decorations at the church and normally I would go with him, but I need to stay home and get the house ready and food ready for round three of a Christmas celebration with our daughter and husband who arrive tomorrow. We have lived in Texas 20 years now and when we left Minnesota it never occurred to me that this move would forever alter our Christmas with our children. Only once in 20 years, have we had all our children with us at one time at Christmas. It was a hard, hard adjustment, but eventually we came to see the beauty of individual celebrations. We are allowed one on one time with each of our children which is a rare gift these days and a time where they have our undecided attention and we, theirs.

Our son and family from Minnesota “face timed” with us last night where we visited about an hour and while it is not the same as in person, it is still a pretty good second best because we got to talk with each person in their family and even saw the family dog. They were sitting around the family hearth and it almost felt like we were right there. Such a nice gift! A truly wonderful gift!

These adult children are so good at making us feel loved. As our family grows through marriages and engagements, it brings more family into our circle of love. While we always appreciate the lovely gifts they give us for special occasions, I wonder if they ever realize the gift we cherish the most is the gift of their PRESENCE and the gift of their hearts? As parents of grown men and women who already sport gray hair, shiny balding domes, and little baby crows feet making an appearance on their faces, I find myself wondering if these adult middle aged children understand that their Mother and Father view them through the alternating lens of time as we cast our eyes upon their being? We see the babies we held when their life was brand new. We see them in their brownie uniform, their Boy Scout uniform, their baseball cap, their band uniform, their basketball jersey……
We see them as our forever “children” and the love we feel for them is fierce and unconditional, much like God’s love for us. Who else could hurt us badly and in a wave of the hand we let it go and renew our faith in the eventual outcome of their life to come?

Mostly, though, in the midst of beautifully set Christmas tables, beautifully decorated trees, shiny packages waiting to be opened, the most wonderful gift really was, is, and always will be feeling loved for exactly who we are, maybe even in spite of who we are. Unconditional love is a rare, rare gift! Last night there was a toast made and this normally very shy person expressed a love so well and so beautifully, the recipient of this declaration of love was dabbing at tears that spontaneously appeared in response to this gift. To be witnesses to the expression of this kind of love brought a hush and then an explosion of words of appreciation and joy to all in attendance.

“For God so loved the world”, He created the inhabitants of this world to have a real NEED to love and be loved which is why so many of us place a supreme importance on the act of love. Offering ones heart to another person is the most treasured of all gifts, whether it is from ones spouse, fiancée, parent, child, grandchild, or friend. Love is as necessary to our existence as is food and water because God IS love. Whenever we gift someone with love, we are gifting them with a piece of God Himself!

This Christmas we are feeling very loved and appreciated and needed. There are no other gifts that even compare!

Now, I need to go and prepare for round three of family Christmas. I hope all of you experienced God’s love in some way from someone you love this Christmas! The reason for the season began because of a love so good and so unselfish, we can only imagine the depth and breadth and height of it!

Thank you for ba part of our life! Merry CHRISTmas!

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