Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Christmas Memories: The Best Ever
Little did I know that the next Christmas would be very different...in a good way. You wouldn't think so the way 1967 started. The first months of the year I was one very miserable teenager; extremely disillusioned, feeling like my life was restrictive and repressive. I was questioning everything. And we were at war. In fact, I had three brothers connected to the military....David was in the Navy and Tom was soon to join. Don was in the Army. And Vietnam was very real. It was the days of Peter, Paul and Mary, the days of love-ins, the days of the flower children, the days of pot. Rebellion and cynicism was everywhere, and my own heart was swept along a sea of discord and discontent. And then.....the unthinkable happened. The "Hound of Heaven" wouldn't leave me alone. Finally, on June 30, 1967, I let it all go and invited the Prince of Peace to reign in my heart and in my mind. Instant change. Discord turned to peace, discontent turned to joy, rather than feeling restricted and repressed, I felt freedom. Rather than feeling like no one loved me, I felt loved like never before. A teen aged phase? I don't think so. It has stayed with me for over 40 years - through the best of times and through the worst of times. And I will never forget Christmas 1967. By now Don was in the trenches of Vietnam and there were reports every day of soldiers being killed. Would Don be the next one? What was he doing this Christmas eve? As we shared a good meal and later opened our gifts, I remember feeling such an overwhelming peace and joy, for now the ceremonies and traditions had meaning. I finally understood what we were really celebrating. I put on my new watch and tried to calculate what time it was in Vietnam -- it was already Christmas Day there. And I prayed the prayer yet again, "Lord, please bring him back to us soon, even if he has to have a small injury to do it." I figured a small injury to bring him home would be better than getting killed any day! (Don, I take full responsibility for the bullet in your leg!) Somehow, I just knew he would be okay, and he was. Yes, I had experienced lots of wonderful Christmas celebrations, but this was the best yet. And I know that whatever Christmas may hold in the future; if I am ever alone, if there are no gifts, if there is no feast...I know that I will still reflect on what happened and still have peace, joy and love in my heart. Because I will always have the Christ of Christmas with me. Joy to the World!