Greetings to all! The stockings are hung by the chimney with care and thoughts of sugar plums will soon dance in my children’s heads. As I sit here on the eve of the birth of Jesus Christ I am reflective on this holiday season and also on this past year that will soon come to close next week. I have never really been the “Christmas” type, I don’t like large crowds of people, traffic, Christmas Carols, or elves, they kind of freak me out. On the other hand, I married Ms. Christmas, I believe that if you tract Ali’s genealogy that she is distantly related to the Clauses. She loves to decorate, she loves to have Christmas music on in the house, and her little heart goes pitter patter when the Egg Nog is put on the grocery store shelves in November. As the years have progressed I have made small steps to partake in my wife’s Christmas joys, more for her than for myself. I try to do things that let her know that what is important to her is important to me.
This year has been different for me. This year I found myself turning on Christmas music and singing along. I noticed just the other day as I strolled along a shopping center sidewalk doing a little Christmas shopping I caught myself whistling the tunes to popular Christmas Carols. I even succumb to my wife’s pleas to get the kids two kittens for Christmas. I am not sure what has happened to me this Christmas, especially with the year we have had. This Christmas season has had a real longing to it, there have been many tears shed between Ali and myself over the “missing” of our sweet Cate. But even with the “missing” there has been a lot of LIFE in our house. This morning I was thinking about Christ’s humble entrance into the world and how His life has brought us ALL the opportunity for real, true, and lasting life. Isn’t that was Christmas is about? LIFE!
Today makes six months since our precious Cate departed from this earthly life and began the celebration of her eternal life. It has been a painful six months yet even with that pain there has been so much LIFE brought into our family. There have been so many little “Christmases” in the past six months. Some small and some large instances where so many of you have humbly brought Christ into the life of the Cantrell family. So, as we approach tomorrow and the celebration of our Savior’s entrance into the world, my heart is grateful to all of you who have realized that Christmas is not something that we celebrate one day a year but something that we actively live.
There have been countless examples of how you all have brought the life of Christ to us, whether it is through your financial generosity, dinners you have dropped off at the house, gift cards so that we could take the kids to McDonald’s, Masses that are being said for Cate or our family, gifts that have been sent to our houses from you the readers that we have never met, and how after I wrote the blog about Ali and I liking La Crema Pinot Noir, you all brought bottles of La Crema to the house (I am thinking about mentioning in my next blog how I like beach houses, just kidding), or the group of anonymous women who have somehow banded together from around the country and world to spiritually carry my wife with prayers, cards, flowers, and gifts. You women whoever you are have touched my heart so deeply. I love my wife with all I have and I think she is such a special person, so to know that she has touched you in such a special way and that you all love her and are so committed to her means more than words to this humbled husband. I get emotional as I type this just thinking about how much of the life and love of Christ has been poured out on our little family. All of you, our family, friends and complete strangers have made this challenging time just a little easier. You all through your acts of kindness and generosity have truly decided whether you realize it or not to LIVE Christmas.
You all have inspired, encouraged, and challenged our little family to realize that once the carols have all been sung, the presents have been all unwrapped, the food has all been gluttonously devoured and the tree has been taken down, that Christmas does not end. Christmas is to be lived everyday in our hearts and in our actions. You all have shown us over the past six months that the opportunity to birth Christ into the world everyday in small ways and sometimes in big ways is always there. We do not have to wait until the toy drives or the giving tree in our Churches go up to bring the life of Christ into the world around us. Everyday there are opportunities to reach out to family members, neighbors, or in our case, as some of you have done, to complete and total strangers.
Maybe this year instead of New Year’s resolutions, which we don’t keep anyway, we can have “Christmas Decisions.” Decisions that we make as individuals and/or as families to not let Christmas be one day, but instead, be a lifestyle. On this eve of the birth of our Savior know that the Cantrell’s will carry you all in our hearts as we celebrate with our family this tremendous and spectacular event that happened so many years ago and that Christ continues to let happen through each one of us. From our family to yours we truly and whole heartedly thank you and wish you a Merry Christmas YEAR!