Monday, December 30, 2013

Pictures from Christmas 2013

Christmas morning

My niece Noora

Today was my first day back from my trip downstate for the holidays and I’ve been trying to get things caught up a bit before heading back to work in a few days. It’s hard to believe how much effort goes into planning for the holidays, and how quickly the days seem to pass. A part of me was wishing that I could just skip Christmas this year so that I wouldn’t have to come face-to-face with the pain of celebrating the holidays without loved ones, but the more sensible part  of me knew that avoiding the emotions would not be very instrumental in the healing process. In spite of my apprehension, it turned out to be a wonderful week, full of much love and special times of grace with friends and  loved ones. I truly am blessed!

Ironically, in a few months when I look back on Christmas 2013, I sincerely doubt that I will remember what was served for dinner, what gifts I opened up, what type of wrappings they came in, or how tiring and stressful it can be to travel.  More than likely, I will remember the joy on the faces of the little children when I pulled out the guitar and they got to play instruments as we sang carols. Or the conversations I had with cousins and relatives that I don’t get the opportunity to see very often. Likely, it will be the love I felt when I visited my nun friends at the IHM motherhouse and spent the day with my dear friend, Sr. Therese Michael, and the joy on her face when I agreed to stay for dinner. It will also be the happiness of seeing my childhood friend, Susan, and her daughters , one of whom is about 3 weeks away from delivering her 2nd child and the complete joy in  visiting my dear friends, the Tilley’s and opening a Christmas card from them with the greeting: to our “6th child.” They have treated me like one of their own since I was a young child and they fill the void left by the absence of my own parents.
 Or maybe sharing breakfast with one of my former students that has remained a close friend and is now all grown up with 3 children of her own. Of course, there are the kids….the nieces and nephews….the new babies and the old ones…the aunts and uncles and my brother and sister and cousins.  The bottom line???? It’s not the THINGS I enjoyed; but rather than PEOPLE and the TIME spent with them that made this one of my best Christmas’ ever.
Those memories will nourish and strengthen me on my journey and will provide me with inspiration to keep motivated, because just 3 years ago I was unable to do many of these things. My life was one of physical and emotional pain and although I was always “in the room” for the holidays, I was not truly PRESENT.   Trust me when I say….being PRESENT… Life….is the best PRESENT of all! I encourage you to  do what you have to do in the New Year so that you can be PRESENT and enjoy each day of your life. I pray that your Christmas season was one of wonder and grace as well.

 My friend of 35 years and former teacher,
Sr. Therese Michael Dudek, IHM