I started this posting in late November. Life intervened and I didn’t finish it and I haven’t posted for several weeks.
This idea started at the time of Thanksgiving (in the US). I was thinking about the differences and similarities of the Thanksgiving in the US and in Canada. Wikipedia (Click HERE) has a summary of the history of the 2 holidays. Over the past 10 years we have had occasion to celebrate both holidays because our son & his family live in Illinois. They have other “ex-patriate” Canadians as friends and they often celebrate both holidays.
I am writing this the day after Christmas. There is so much written and talked about regarding the true meaning of Christmas. Of all the holidays in modern North America, it is likely the most debated and exploited holiday of all. It is at Christmas that Christians are most caught between the exclusive nature of the one God who sent his only Son to redeem a lost world and the univeralism and pluralism of modern society. The Son who gave up a heavenly kingdom to become human – who came to offer peace has been misappropriated and misunderstood. Some have taken up the sword in his name (despite his aversion to the sword --) and some have taken up the sword to disprove his power and to show the supremacy of their gods and prophets. Many have subverted the message of the Messiah and the message of other prophets and teachers into a message of Mammon – man and money is supreme – might is right – the only God is ME.
How do we cast off the trappings of our culture and the influences of its master Satan
and get back to the joy & peace and promise of a god who became flesh - a lowly birth for a heavenly king -- ?
God grant us the humility to understand that it is only in surrender that these blessings come—it is not in our striving and in our giving of gifts and feasting on food fit for a king.
Holidays are so much today about family and feasting. It is useful to remember that the root of the word is “Holy Day” and true celebration needs to involve worship and honor to God who made us and gave us all things. However, for me, one of the best ways to celebrate our love for God is to live it in our families and as with many family gatherings involve feasting!!
This fall has been a series of family events. October 1 we were in Beamsville to celebrate my brother-in-law Art Ford’s retirement from Great Lakes Christian College. See my October 6 post on Pictures for more details on this event. We had (at least) 2 big “feasts” while there – one a dinner at the school and the other a family dinner at my sister’s.
Thanksgiving weekend was at big family gathering & reunion (approx 75 people) as an early celebration of my father’s 90th birthday. Of course this involved several meals including a lunch and supper organized by 2 of my sisters. A great time visiting with my brothers & sisters and their off-spring.
The rest of October I was at home. (and Linda was visiting Kevin & Sarah.)
November 8-13 I traveled to Aurora Ill. Linda & I looked after Hunter & Camdyn while Chris & Tammye were on a cruise for their 15th anniversary. Probably the only trip this fall that didn’t involve much more than regular meals although Linda & I enjoyed a wonderful takeout fish dinner from Wayne's restaurant in Oconto WI when we stopped overnight on the trip home.
November 24-26 we were on the road again this time to Meaford to help my cousin Wilma and her husband Clyde celebrate their 50th anniversary. Not only did we feast at the “official” celebration at the Meaford church but Wilma had a big dinner at her house for the out-of-town guests. (I have mentioned Clyde & Wilma several times before --see my June blogs). The picture shows themwith their Sons Reyburn (on left) and Roger (on right). Roger was the preacher at Pinehill until he moved to Troy Michigan in September. Sandra was not able to be there since she had travelled to Oklahoma for her grandmother's funeral).
Two weeks later we were on the road again. This time because of the death of Linda’sgrand-nephew. (see my last entry on December 6). On the trip to Guelph, we had Linda’s sister Carol in our car and we traveled along with four of her brothers in a separate vehicle. The funeral was difficult - attended by many of Stephen’s school friends. It turned out that, despite the initial reports that it is likely that it was suicide rather than accidental. Our prayers remain with Pam & Mike, & Terry & June as they have had to live with this tragedy through a time when others are celebrating with family.
After the funeral we went to McMaster Children’s hospital to see Kayla – she is the granddaughter of our friends the Roetman’s. It was a better (although still stressful) experience to see that she was recovering. She has infection in the bone and is now at home receiving treatment. We spent Saturday night& Sunday in Beamsville at my sister’s.
Even in the circumstances food is a part of life. We had one very bad experience. Friday night we went out to eat before the visitation. One of Linda’s brother made a joke just as she was sipping some tea and she choked on it and triggered an asthma attack. It was rather scary as she struggled for breath until we got her outside and into the cold air. Fortunately, she came around OK without needing medical treatment. Saturday after the funeral the family gathered for a lunch at my niece’s house. Her neighbor’s had supplied a lot of food and there does seem to be some healing in sharing memories and tears over food.
Sunday dinner at my sister Ruby’s place is always pleasant and refreshing to the soul. She had invited my niece Trish and we had a chance to visit with her as well.
This trip had other minor misfortunes. I left a Mount Rushmore t-shirt at the motel in Guelph and lost a library book during our visit to the hospital. On the positive side, my brother-in-law Morris had hip replacement surgery December 4 and is doing well. He was out to a family gathering at our house on the 16th.
Jack King who had been seriously ill with a C-difficile infection is recovering and was out to services on the 17th.
Just over 2 weeks after returning home we were on the road again – coming here to Chris’ for Christmas.
In between in late November and during this 2 weeks I was busy with giving and marking exams and submitting grades. We bother were busy with Christmas shopping and Linda was busy baking, decorating, cleaning and all those things.
In addition, we had 2 more familyevents.
Saturday (Dec. 16th) we had 21 of my family for our "family Christmas" sharing a meal (pizza) and giving gifts to my Dad- before he headed off to my sister Ruby's for Christmas. Picture shows 2 of my brother-in-laws- Jason & Morris
Sunday the 17th we were at Little Rapids (near Thessalon) for Christmas with the Armstrong's -- actually we thought was the Goodmurphy's (our annual gathering with Linda's family organized by Linda's mother, Martha). Martha had told us she was inviting her brother's and sisters(the Armstrong's) but what we didn't know until we got there was that the invitation included their offspring as well. There were well over 100 people for the potluck meal and an afternoon ofvisiting and singing Christmas carols.
We got to see and visit with many of Linda's cousisn's that we hadn'tseen for some time and, we got to play "who's kid are you" with the children and grand-children (and even the occasional great-grandchild) of those cousins.
So family, friends & feasts -- this is what makes life meaningful - even when the gathering is tragic there is strength in family. My prayer is that as we find strength in our earthly family ties we will seek even more the riches of having a heavenly family and for those who may not have been blessed with a family here --may yhey find God's family -- it is the best!!!
Our Christmas was wonderful.
We attended a Christmas eve”candle light” service. There is something very moving about singing Silent night with several hundred people in an auditorium lit by the flickering light of candles.
It was great watching the kids open their gifts and, of course we feasted.
We are staying through New Year’s because our Melissa & Alexander are coming New Year’s day.
Well, I need to get this posted. My this review of family events and ”feasts” will help explain why I haven’t posted anything for awhile. In any case “it is what it is”
A few things from my limited blog browsing in November & December.
There was a report (initially written by his wife Theressa "Tess") about “Preacherman” Kinney Mabry and his battle with Guillaime-Barr syndrome. At last report he was home recovering and blogging again. Praise God for this.
John Dobbs had his 43rd birthday November 30 (Click HERE)
Bobby Valentine is abandoning us Northerners and heading to Arizona—I think he will miss the snow (if we ever have any) (Click HERE to find out more)
I guess my New Year’s resolution will needto be to spend more time in reflection --- by which I mean “blogging” (both browsing others and posting my own). Time will tell and God is in control.