Friday, 24 December 2010

the Evening Before the First Christmas After

I've not been great at blogging, at posting regularly short soundbites on my musings through life. Early resolution is to write more blogs (and shorter blogs, I seem incapable of doing anything but producing essays!). That's the first resolution that I'm going to break within the first week of January I'm sure.

We're all sat round the TV in Eastbourne, the night before Christmas. Riley's asleep upstairs after a day overloaded with attention, Becky's on her iPhone checking facebook and the rest of us are waiting for Nanny McPhee to finish before we can inaugurate the new Christmas 'tradition' of unwrapping a present each on Christmas Eve (we have to make a start on the gifts under the tree there are so many! Something to do with this being Riley's first Christmas may have something to do with that!)

It's a hallmark moment except perhaps for the elephant in the room that looms heavily over the festivities. Dad died just over two months ago now. We talk about him often and relive Christmas activities that remind us of him and help keep his memory alive. He was a wonderful man and we all miss him greatly. We are all the much richer for having had him in our lives. His influence on us, the love and devotion that he showered on us and the direction he led us through life have all left there positive mark on us. They are what enable us to enjoy Christmas moments as a family, happily, with many fond memories in the past and a confidence that there'll be many more happy moments to come in the future. Our future joy and happiness is a tribute to his life and work, it's what he lived to build. We must all make it our goal to pursue joy and happiness in his memory. We truly honour the memory of those who have loved us by living as they led us to live. Life is short and death is never welcome but since we cannot outrun its shadow we must all decide what to do with our time while we have it.

A phrase that I had in my head during the time of dad's funeral was that the measure of a man is what he leaves behind. The last two months have been a perspective check, a staring down the barrel of a gun and asking myself the question 'what and who do I want to be when I look back on my life?' When I have to leave behind those I've loved and have been loved by, what do I want them to say about me?

For me: I'm a follower of Jesus, my saviour and God. You could call me 'Christian', 'religious' 'spiritual' 'deluded?' even but a Jesus-follower is what I shall remain and shall always be. In 2010 he's been there as I celebrated the birth of my son and as I mourned the death of my dad. He has not taken pain away but he has taken me (and is taking me) through it. When I look back on my life I want to be measured against this line 'how closely and faithfully did I follow Jesus?'

My life's priorities are: Christian, husband, father/son/brother, employee in that order. The reason that Christmas is so special is that it combines the first three most important things in my life into one day. Christmas is a chance for me to celebrate the birth of my king and rescuer, it is day in which I'm able to celebrate my wife and express to Amy through giving and serving just how much I love her and it is a chance for me as a dad/son/brother to delight in the wonderful gift of family. That's a good day.

That's why I can enjoy Christmas tomorrow, the first one after my dad's passing. I celebrate the life and upbringing he gave me and I look forward to living as he raised me to live.

Enjoy the ones you love and consider what you want the measure of your life to be.

Happy Christmas