The holidays this year were a lot different for me than in previous years. They were remarkably quieter. The day I flew back to NJ from California to see my parents, my grandmother in Taiwan suffered a heart murmur and fainted in the shower. She hit her head and was in the ICU for a few days because her heartbeat was too slow. My dad booked the earliest flight to Taiwan that he could find and left the day before Christmas Eve, not returning until the end of January.
The day before my dad flew out, I had to fly down to Virginia to deal with legal issues and missed the last day I could be with my dad before he left. Alone in a hotel room watching Christmas movies on the TV, I kept thinking that this holiday season was looking a lot different than what I had hoped for.
Christmas was small and intimate. Just my mom, my sister and me watching “The Santa Claus” trilogy on ABC. The rest of the time between Christmas and New Years, I spent at home with my mom. I didn’t see any friends or reunite with old high school buddies. Just stayed home because I didn’t want my mom to be alone.
But in the quietness of the season, I was reminded of how many people probably feel more pain and loneliness than they do joy and celebration this time of year. There are those who are reminded more of the lost loved ones they are not with, during a time where family and friends should be gathered. There are those who don’t have a home, no gifts to open, and nothing to eat. It took me out of my self-referential chaos and gave me a glimpse into a day-to-day reality that belongs to so many people.
I was fortunate this year that my grandmother had a successful surgery and she is on her way to recovery. I am thankful that she had my dad with her for the holidays. I still got to spend some really good time with my mom talking about faith, God and hearing stories about her life that I never knew. However, this hiccup in my last few days of 2013 reminded me that we live a world that is full of disregarded have-nots who have no bright faces and holiday trappings to post on their social media.
A friend of mine texted me while I was alone in that hotel room in Virginia saying, “think humble and simple thoughts. Take a deep breath and be thankful that you can." My hope for 2014 is to learn how to be more grateful. To live each day in thankfulness to the God who gives us life. To make the most of the time we are given with our loved ones because it is indeed limited. And to care for those who are hurting because Jesus is in the "least of these."
Happy New Year, my friends