The real thing this Christmas

It all started weeks ago, when our family found out about a friend of ours who has cancer.

It is that time of year again when everybody is rushing around in a dervish whirl of activity.  There are Christmas concerts, Christmas parties and all manner of activities to keep people running beyond full steam, brains overloaded, bodies fueled by adrenaline and perhaps a little eggnog now and again…and somewhere in all of that—is what Christmas is really all about.

This week I was reminded through and through of what Christmas is really about.  It all started weeks ago, when our family found out about a friend of ours who has cancer.  This friend has been in our lives since our family moved to Princeton in 1978.

My brother Brady and I went through school with this friend.  We played ball, raft-raced, (when that was still a part of Racing Days), roamed our ranch free of worries and, in general, spent a lot of time growing up together.  This spring our friend and his family showed up at my house with their latest little bundle of joy… so proud.

Their life went from that moment to some not so great moments as of late.  Our friend is worried he won’t see his three boys grow up.  His wife is worried she will lose the man she loves and have to raise their boys alone.  That was definitely not in the plan when they got married years ago at a resort outside Kamloops on an unseasonably cold summer day.

I phoned Brady the other day and I was reminded of what is real and important in life.  My niece Lindsay answered the phone.  I had had a bad day.  The sincerity and delight in her voice to hear mine brought tears to my eyes.  She loves me and I love her…that is real.  Brady and I talked about my bad day and his family.  I was soon feeling better… that is what family does for one another.  Lindsay played her guitar for me and sang Christmas songs.  My sister-in-law said what I needed to hear.  Brady was off to his volunteer position as a fire fighter for practice, but before he hung up he told me that his family planned on spending less on each other this Christmas and helping out our friends whose story is much worse than most of ours right now.  They are going to give a month’s income from their rental property not to the roof that was just replaced, but to our friends…her on maternity leave…him fighting to stay on this planet with his family.

I hung up knowing tomorrow would be a better day because people still live by love.  Hatred and cruelty can only fuel one so far.

So as Christmas draws near, I pray for a family that needs it.  I pray for a friend who never forgot all the meals that my mom fed him and has sent her a box of Roger’s chocolates every Christmas since he has become a man.  Christmas is about people not gifts and goodies, but people…that is the real thing.  To my family and friends I wish you a very real Christmas filled with people whose faces light up when you enter the room.