When one declares oneself to be a conservative, one is not, unfortunately, thereupon visited by tongues of fire that leave one omniscient. The acceptance of a series of premises is just the beginning. After that, we need constantly to inform ourselves, to analyze and to think through our premises and their ramifications. We need to ponder, in the light of the evidence, the strengths and the weaknesses, the consistencies and the inconsistencies, the glory and the frailty of our position, week in and week out. Otherwise, we will not hold our own in a world where informed dedication, not just dedication, is necessary for survival and growth.

William F. Buckley Jr., Feb 8, 1956, NR

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Lost and Christmas Found

UPDATE - Dec 24,08: This post has been honored with a "Pride of Place" award by Kat who is hosting "Carnival of Christmas", a huge collection of great Christmas posts. That my meager offering won this honor - along with another post by Hoosier Army Mom for her post "The Men and Women of the Armed Forces" is a tremendous honor! Thank you so much, Kat!


We who celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th know who He is and I'm so thankful I know who He is. You see, I was raised by an Atheist father. I know my step-mother had been raised in faith, but she let my father have his way, so as a child Christmas didn't really mean very much to me after my mother died from cancer when I was seven. After all, I was only seven, so of course I blamed her death on God, and there was no one to dispel that notion until I went to stay with my grandparents for a year while my father dealt with his demons. I honestly can say that I have no childhood memories of Christmas except for one. Please don't feel sorry for me because I would truly hate that.

The year my mother died I remember Christmas because my father visited me and as a Christmas present he gave me my first bicycle. That's why I remember the Christmas of 1948. My mother died and I got my first bicycle. It didn't have anything to do with the birth of Christ. All other Christmas's from 1948 until 1958 have been wiped from my memory. There are many reasons for that, but the main reason is because I was truly miserable. I'm not going to go into the horrors of my childhood in any great detail, only to say that dealing with a verbally abusive alcoholic step-mother and an Atheist father who was gone most of the time somehow wiped my memory of those years pretty much off the slate, until 1957 when I met my future husband. I'm writing this on December 23rd, early morning on our 50th wedding anniversary, which seems surreal in itself. Fifty years! My word, the time goes by fast! Cherish your youth if you still have it, because it won't last long.

I have a very strong faith in our Lord, but I don't really know how I acquired it. It seems to be something that has always been with me. As a small child I felt the presence of God, and briefly lost that feeling after my mother died, but it came back soon thereafter, and when it did it was stronger than ever. I went to church whenever I could, but I had to go with a friend. My parents never attended church. Even with my faith in the Lord, I never put Christmas together with the birth of Christ. I don't know what I thought of Christmas because I seem to have some sort of amnesia. I suppose we had a Christmas tree and gave one another presents, but I don't remember. Perhaps I don't want to, but those Christmas's are lost, along with any birthday celebrations that may or may not have taken place. What ever the reason for the blank spots of my memory, I don't dwell on the past. I've always dwelt on the present and the future. The past is exactly that: The Past! The fact that I can't remember is probably a true gift from God.

I married a man who absolutely adores Christmas and knew about the reason for the season. I'm positive that my wonderful husband was sent to me by our Lord. When Walt came out of basic training at Ft. Ord, California, we were married in Los Angeles at City Hall the very next day and almost immediately got into his car and drove from LA to Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, where he was assigned for duty. I can tell you in all sincerity that I hated Los Angeles and detested my family, so when we left I felt that I had escaped the bowels of Hell. A strange thing to write on a Christmas post, but it's the truth. Many of you may wonder if I have forgiven my father and step-mother. The answer is yes. Absolutely! Nothing comes of carrying anger in your heart but the destruction of your own soul. To be honest, it took a long time, but I managed to forgive them both before they passed on. I do wonder sometimes if my father was surprised to discover he was wrong.

Christmas finally had meaning to me after our marriage. That first Christmas of 1958 was spent on the road driving across country to Ft. Belvoir, but even in a car with no tree and no presents, it was glorious! Every Christmas after that has been very special, but there is one that I will always remember more than any other. That is the one when my Lord sent my husband back to me alive and well from Vietnam. I'll never forget that wonderful and glorious gift, and never cease to thank God that I still have that gift! My husband is one of my life's greatest blessings. That was the Christmas of 1970.

Even though Christmas had no real meaning to me during my growing up years, it has been my favorite time of year for many years now. I learned the true meaning of Christmas and don't feel deprived in the least bit because of lost Christmas's of the past. On October 1st, 1941, my physical birth took place, but my real birth took place on December 23rd, 1958, a birth that I celebrate today. On Christmas Eve we will go to church to worship our Lord and celebrate His glorious birth, and in the morning we will do the traditional exchange of gifts, which we really don't need because we have each other, and that's the best gift either one of us has ever been given. I know I feel that way, and I also know my husband feels the same way because he tells me so almost every day.

I am so blessed!


(A Christmas Cactus Flower snagged from Born Again Redneck Bourgeois )

This post is cross-posted at Dragon Lady's Den.".


rockync said...

I believe that God is a presence so huge and so powerful that no one place can contain him. My belief is that God is in the heavens and the trees and the Earth below our feet and is a part of each and every one of our souls. The biblical phrase, "Be still and know that I am God." is a profound statement. I think when you allow yourself to stop the busy thoughts in your head and just let the stillness envelop you, that you WILL hear/feel the "voice" of God.
I also had a tough childhood; not as tough as yours but difficult and hurtful just the same, but always that deep and abiding faith sustained me.
50 years with your best friend and most stalwart supporter is a great gift! I am coming on 32 years myself. God knew what you needed.
Unfortunately, in life, there are no do overs. The people that hurt us can't "make up" for things they have done and neither can we. But we can live better and kinder and more aware of the human beings we affect each and every day.
I think I am a better human being for my trials because I have the capacity to love and to care and I have the determination to NOT commit the same mistakes that hurt me so.
Gayle - I wish you a blessed, peaceful, loving, happy Christmas!

Peace! Rocky

Gayle said...

Rocky, you are so right! Our trials and tribulations can indeed make us stronger and more compassionate people if we decide not to allow anger to destroy us. My post doesn't tell even half of the horrors of my childhood, so whenever I hear that someone comitted a henious crime because of the way they were treated as a child I don't understand it. I find it hard to think of it as an excuse for being a horrid individual. Those crimes comitted against you when you were small, trusting and helpless against hurtful and cruel adults are truly awful, but they don't have to ruin your life. They can only do so if you allow it.

Thank you for your wonderful comment and here's hoping you have a very glorious Christmas! :)

Robert said...

Gayle, Christmas brings out the most personal and touching stories, and I thank you for yours. I can't imagine a childhood like that, and it is a testimony to the love and grace of God that you carry that faith and have found forgiveness in your heart. So many of us hold on to anger and resentment that it does more to destroy ourselves than anything else.

I hope you and everyone has a glorious Christmas!

Gayle said...

Thank you, Robert. I'm glad you can't imagine a childhood like that! I wish no one ever had to experience it, but so many people experience many worse childhoods than mine. In their innocent trust they are betrayed, which is why I believe our Lord holds a special place in his heart for the children. I know He did for me.

Merry Christmas! :)

Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

You are indeed blessed. Thanks for sharing a little of your life story with us.

Gayle said...

Thank you, PCC. I appreciate your comment. Merry Christmas! :)

Anonymous said...

What a beauriful post and absolutely deserving of the honor bestowed upon it. It's amazing to hear all the different stories that we have of Christmas and yours is especially touching. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I wish you a very Merry Christmas with Christ as the center.

Gayle said...

Thank you, Jennifer! Merry Christmas! :)

I was amazed to see that Instapundit.com linked to the Carnival of Christmas.

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