Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Life

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!

Much Love,

The Cantrells


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and let you know that I will be thinking about your family and our sweet Angel Cate! Thanks for continuing to share with us, your words continue to move and inspire me.

The Caswells said...

Just wanted to let you guys know that we are still continuing to pray for you. We wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas!! Thanks for continuing to share your journey with all of us. Your words are amazing!
Love, Kyle, Marin and Kaylin

Angela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Cantrells....Love you all,Kim Hebert :-)

rlmcgovern said...

Merry Christmas!!! You have such strength and it shows so much in every post. I think & pray for your family often. I hope your holidays are filled with giggles and grins and thoughts of sweet Cate.

Anonymous said...

What a profound idea! I love it! So glad to hear that Christmas is bringing such joy and happiness to you all! Merry Christmas Year!

P.S. Still praying for you all daily!

Jolene said...

Charlie and Ali,
As usual, Charlie, you said it perfectly. Christmas is a choice to LIVE it daily. God bless you and Merry Christmas Year to you too!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to wish you all a very special Merry Christmas. You continue to be in our hearts, prayers and thoughts daily. Payton and Vivian still speak of "Baby Cate" and pray for you all often. May you feel His presence in a special way as we enter this Christmas season!
All our love, tonya (and jeff)

Suzanne said...

Praying for your family as you remember your precious Cate during this Christmas Season. Beautiful post about making "christmas decisions" all year long to bring Christ's Life and Love to others.

May the Peace of our Lord be with you always.


Mary said...

What a beautiful post Charlie! Merry Christmas year to you and your beautiful family. Our prayers are with you and sweet Angel Cate. Love you guys, Mary and David Reed

Anonymous said...

Love you guys!!
ben, maria and girls

Anonymous said...

Amen! Merry Christmas YEAR! Could not have said it better ourselves ;)
love you guys
courtney and jeremy

Anonymous said...

Your words never cease to amaze me Charlie! Reading your blog over this year has been so special to me! Thank you!
And I pray for your family that you do experience more Christmas moments every day in the year to come!!
Love Teresa Clark

Laura said...

Hey love! God's healing is flowing through your message. Not just for your family, but for all of us, Charlie. That precious Cate...I never saw her in person, but she sure burned her spot into my heart. Gosh...she made me so aware that I liked you a WHOLE LOT MORE than I thought I did (wink and a smile). Oh yes...Christmas came early for all of us who participated in the "Cate Festival of Life" and I am so thankful for being able to have had a spot in this event. Funny, though, I would never have thought you didn't care for Christmas before. You have always been a "gift bearer" sooo many ways to soooo many of us. I'm so grateful to be participating in eternity with you, my sweet brother.

It was good hearing from you. Love to Ali and your lambs.

Lila Lambert said...

"Jesus wanted to launch the Redemption of the world from the heart of a family"...I believe your family has continued what He began..what we can achieve, when we just BELIEVE...from my family to yours, may Christ reign in our hearts through the coming year!!!

Andrea said...

I appreciate your idea about Christmas as a lifestyle. Thanks for sharing your heart and spirit filled thoughts with us. They are so refreshing and keep me grounded about what is really important.
Love yall so much!
Klair, Paul and Isabel

Anonymous said...

Merry Merry Christmas! Always great to read up on the Cantrell blog. Such wisdom and encouragement! Thank you!

Our prayers are with you-

Tricia and Nick :)

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way... tell Ali I am Ms. Christmas too and Nick is quite the same as you! Much improvement this year as well. Woo hooo!! :)

~ Tricia

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Year, Cantrell family!!!! Charlie, your blog was so uplifting and meaningful....thanks for continuing to share!!! Much love and prayers to your family throughout this holiday season and the coming year!!!
Breyan and family

Jamie said...

Hello Charlie - My husband said he saw you guys in the parking lot at Winn Dixie Christmas eve. HE thought it was very nice of you guys to swing back around and tell him hello. I was thinking to myself that I was anxious to hear a Cantrell story so I checked the blog and sure enough I found two stories! Wishing you and your family a happy new years and glad you got a dose of the jolly Christmas spirit. It does wonders! Miss you guys and God bless

Crystal said...

Charlie & ALi,

Just wanted to say we had a nice time the other night at ya'lls New Years Eve party. I am glad we went. Thanks again for the invite!!

God Bless,
Crystal Judice