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Chaplaincy

Friday, Fourth Week of Advent

  I lie awake;
    I am like a lonely bird on the housetop…
My days are like an evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.
But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
    your name endures to all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
    for it is time to favor it;
    the appointed time has come.
       —Psalm 102:7,11-13

 

Keeping Hope Alive in a Christmas Funk

Christmas has become a disappointment for me. Catalogues arrive showing happy families in lovely decorated homes and all the things I can buy to make my Christmas look like theirs! The neighbors gift-wrap their houses and plug them in at night, using enough electricity to light a small third-world country for a month. Adds on the radio assure me that I’ll never see deals like this again and I must get to the mall NOW or miss my chance.

Inside my living room, the Christmas tree leans to one side, the fire under the mantel’s gone out again, and the tables and floor are covered with the remnants of my sister’s latest art project. There aren’t many presents this year, but that may be more for lack of trying than anything else. My mother makes plans to visit her sister in Texas after Christmas, while my sister and I plan to visit our cousins in Vermont; none of us have spoken to my father in weeks, at least. I find myself falling into a funk, missing the Christmas I spent last year in Nürnberg, Germany, with my mother’s friend from college and her family.

Luisa and her family made me feel incredibly welcome. She and her daughter, Kadda, who is about my age, took great pleasure in showing me Nürnberg’s sights, especially the christkindlesmarkt, the largest Christmas market in Germany. I received more presents than I do at home—most of them handmade—and was fed better than I was while living in Sicily. After traveling from Sicily to get there, it was wonderful to be immediately offered hugs and lebkuchen (a kind of German gingerbread), and to be allowed both to rest and to help out. After less than a day, I already felt I could happily remain part of their family for as long as they’d have me.

I miss that sense of family. It’s why sit-down meals are more important to me than to my mother and sister, and it’s why I tried harder to stay in touch with my father for years. It’s why I’m the “huggiest” by far in my family, and it’s why I hate arguing over anything. It’s probably also why I’m the only spiritual member of my family.

So this year, I’m going to do my best to bring my family together. I can help my mother clean and my sister with her projects, and maybe I’ll give my father a call. We’re smaller than we were and have all had our fair share of stress recently, and we’re all very different people, but this can still be a family Christmas. I may be the only one in my household feeling led by God, but this Christmas, I can bring the love He gives to me to my family in whatever way suits them best.

—Kristen Morgan-Davie ‘12