Dianne Neal Matthews here, hoping to encourage you with a true Christmas story. Last December was a bittersweet time for our family.
At Thanksgiving we had all gathered for the last time in the house where my husband and I had lived for twenty-three years. By the next week, our belongings were packed and on their way to be put into storage for a few months. After we finished cleaning the house, Richard and I would head out early the next morning to drive from Illinois to Salt Lake City, where he had started a new job several months earlier.
Our plans changed abruptly when my younger brother called with devastating news. My 81-yr.-old mom was in intensive care after a fall at work. An ambulance was preparing to rush her to a larger hospital where specialists would evaluate her brain injuries and perform surgery if needed. Instead of going to Utah with my husband, he dropped me off a Memphis hospital with the small bag I’d packed for the expected two-day trip.
The next week was a blur of driving my dad back and forth between the hospital and my parents’ home fifty miles away, waiting for the brief visiting periods in intensive care, handling visits and calls from relatives and friends, and trying to make sense of differing accounts I heard from the different doctors and staff members. When the hospital released Mom, she had greatly improved but could only walk by having me support all her weight. I spent the next couple of weeks taking care of my parents, cooking, cleaning, keeping track of her several medications, and driving her to doctor appointments and physical therapy.
Those early days were difficult, especially the evenings which dragged by. Mom seemed content to sit quietly in her chair. Since the noise of TV and radio bothered her, the house was eerily silent. That made it easier for anxieties to invade my thoughts. Would she ever be completely like her old self? How would my parents cope when I had to leave?
Mixed in with these natural concerns was a dose of self-pity: I felt as though I were missing out on Christmas. No watching Christmas movies or listening to the music of the season. No shopping for gifts or enjoying special events. Then one quiet evening, God opened my eyes to a precious truth: I was actually experiencing a more pure form of Christmas than I ever had before.
Having all that other stuff stripped away freed me to focus simply on giving, and on the Gift that Christmas represents. Suddenly I was flooded with gratitude for this opportunity to do something for the people who had worked so hard and sacrificed so much for me. And I knew that the act of giving to my parents also represented a gift for the One who had sacrificed His life for me.
This season, when we spend so much time thinking about gift-giving, it’s good to remember what lies at the heart of our vocation. Marketing plans, sales numbers, and pressures to increase our online and social media presence often fill our minds. But when all that stuff is stripped away, it all boils down to giving. No matter what type of writing we do, the work of our hands is a gift to our readers—and to the One who has given us the gift of the ability to write in the first place.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good Amazon ranking!
(And my mom has fully recovered from the accident.)