Merry Christmas!! Happy Holidays! And oh YES… Happy Anniversary to us!!
You see, today is our Anniversary. 28 years to be precise.. See, I love this time of year! I love the sights. The Smells.. The Decorations… The Music.. Most of all I love the Movies!! I Am a sucker for Christmas Movies. Romantic Comedies to be precise!
But this Christmas is different. I am alone. I am sitting in my apartment this Christmas season, on our Anniversary, with the tree lit in it’s warm glow of multicolors. The ornaments hung by my wife before she left. Each one placed purposely.. accordingly to shape, color, size… I am listening to instrumental Christmas music as I do every morning since she left for America to see the grand baby, and our family.
I am missing out on Pumpkin Pie, Buttermilk Pie… Watching movies with those I love. Family arguing about the little things of life.
I had to stay behind this year. So for the first time in 28 years we are apart for our Anniversary. For the First time in 30 years we are apart for Christmas and New Years. I am watching all our favorite movies.. the classics and the newer ones! But it’s not the same. This year, it’s about Mitzi.. My wife.. It’s about who she is and what she is becoming..
Oh!! This is also my First Christmas and New Year in Albania…… I am alone trying to figure out what this season of my life has taken me, and where it has brought me. I am trying to figure out what the New Year will bring with it… Like all movies there is the Star of the Show.. The one figure the story is based around. Also there are minor characters and backups…. And like most Christmas movies, the theme is love… Love Lost. Love Forgotten.. Or Love Awakened.. And in the stories the characters are reunited, or brought together, by circumstances beyond their control.
Memories of the past are brought to light. Feelings of love spring forth. Regrets, hard decisions, bad choices made brought to remembrance.. Plans of the future seem bleak. Hope sometimes lost… Regrets seem to heavy to bear. Loneliness breathes it’s chilly breath on the back of the neck, sending a chill thru the soul. Past wounds are dancing like fairies in the mind.. But it is here that the story, our story, maybe your story too.. Takes place..
You see, even though there are a couple of main characters, (and seems love always finds a way) there is always this one character who has but a small part in the whole story, but sets the stage for events, or seems to be able to bring perspective to things. Offering more understanding to those around… This character is able to shed light, to make clear the choices set forth.. This character usually has few lines and isn’t seen often but drops these weighty words that find fertile soil in the hearts and minds of those around…. For instance, Tiny Tim in a Christmas Carol.. The little girl in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.. Scott Calvin’s son in, The Santa Clause…. Or yet, Even more important and true, The Three Wise Men coming to see the New Born King in Bethlehem…
The story isn’t about them. But without them the story doesn’t unfold. The story doesn’t get told. Wisdom is not understood… And so this Christmas.. This Anniversary.. This New Year.. The theme for me is this.. I am not the star of the story. I am not the hero, or even a main character! I am just this one who comes in and out of the stories around me. The one who appears for a brief moment, says his lines, and then leave. I am walking with the Ghost of Christmas Past.. I am being drug by the coattail of Christmas Present.. I am eagerly awaiting Christmas Future..
My part in this story is to say my line.. To set the stage for those whom the story is about. To draw attention not to myself but to the one who the spotlight is on. And this season, the last 2 years even.. It’s not about me. I am not the star of the story. I am not the main character. I am in a supportive role to which the story is allowed to play out.
My wife, my family… (and others around me).. it is their story that is being told.. It is their time to shine. I say my lines. I play my part.. I set the stage so that they can capture the moment. At most at times I am just a stage hand. Preparing the set, the scene, so that life can continue for the characters. I may or may not have a speaking role… The props are heavy.. The scenes are crowded and hard pressed.. I have to manuever in such a way that things can keep playing out.
Sometimes I have a few words to say, a gift to give… But, this too is only a brief moment and then it’s gone..
I am alone, in Albania… First time my life, I am alone.. Because…. The story isn’t about me. In thinking of the first Christmas, I realize the gift of the Magi on that first Christmas Morn was the set-up. A minor story.. An introduction of a Great Story. It wasn’t about them or the gifts.. They were minor casts coming to set the story in perspective. It wasn’t about what they gave, or the struggles, or the journey to get there… No one asked the 3 Wise Men how it went? No one asked them for personal information… No one took down their names, or followed them on their journey to see the King of Kings. Nor were they asked if they made it safely..
There was no great fanfare given on their return. No crowds followed their journey back.. They even had to take a different route, a new direction to get home. We don’t even know if they made it home or not… WHY?? Because that’s not what the story is about..
So, I will not lose hope.. I will not get over frustrated as I pass away from the story around me. I will not try to steal the spotlight with gifts, or the adventure it took to get here. I will just say my lines… I will just set the stage for those whom the story is to be told…
I will watch as the story of my wife unfolds. As all fairy tales and Christmas stories, I will watch as one rises above the struggles of the season, who finds her place in this world. I will present my gifts.. I quietly lay them down.. I silently back away from the scene, as she takes her role, using her gifts and talents to be the person she was meant to be.
See, John the Baptist had it right… “I must decrease.”.. Maybe there is truth in these Christmas stories, “it’s better to give, than to receive.” Maybe we can learn more from the Wise Men than we thought.. Maybe we would do better serving, giving, and leaving, than we would trying to capture more of the moment than we should. Maybe, we are a small part of a greater story.. We will never know the impact of our lines and parts until the play is over. But one thing is for sure. We can not take the Lead Role.. We can not be the Main Character… There is only one for that. The Wise Men came, they followed a sign.. The Star.. They found the Christ… They gave their gifts.. with no strings attached. They gave what they had to the one that would Give ALL He Had. They didn’t waste time. And they were soon forgotten! (And so will we be..)
This Christmas.. This New Year.. I wish you the Best.. I wish that you find your role in the story of your life, and those around you. I hope you look closely at the First Christmas and gleam from there a brighter tomorrow. A Merrier Heart.. and A New Year for eternity..