Thursday. The 23 of December has arrived. This is the down-to-the-wire, last-minute-shopping-day for those of us who are last-minute-shoppers. I include myself in that group because I am generally late finishing up with Christmas presents. I am also generally late in getting my Christmas cards written, addressed, and sent. Well, I guess I’m just generally late…. but anyway, this year is no different. However, I’m still holding out hope for sending a January card which, truth be told, has almost become more of a Gregory tradition than the expected Christmas card, sent sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. After all, it’s not so much about when the card is sent as it is about hearing from the person who sent it, right?
Actually, this year we haven’t shopped much, either. There has been no time. Our focus has been completely on fighting cancer, not shopping. It didn’t even look Christmas-y in our apartment — that is, not until last weekend. We were out driving around Long Island last Saturday with Joan and Fanester, so we stopped and loaded up an inexpensive pre-lit artificial tree, as well as some red and gold balls. We’re looking and feeling Christmas-y now!!!
It’s been rather a relief to have not been out fighting our way through the traffic, driving around for too long looking for a parking place, rushing into the stores, dealing with all the hustle and bustle. All of that activity actually helps spur on the frenzy surrounding Christmas, fraught with deadlines for shopping, sending cards, etc. — but what does any of that have to do with celebrating the birth of Christ? Do we feel it’s Christmas without all the extras? Do we need the extras?
We don’t have all the extras this year, and I must say — it still is Christmas. Perhaps even more so. I haven’t pulled out all the traditional decorations, cooked all the traditional cookies and candy, or made the list and checked it twice. It just was not possible. Somehow it’s still Christmas. God’s gift of His son, and His provision to us of forgiveness, mercy, unconditional love, and everlasting life — ALL of this is given to us. What better gifts are there? Nothing material even comes close.
Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. We tend to think of gifts as the obvious, pretty wrapping, shiny ribbon, there for all to see. Sometimes, though, a gift isn’t something you can unwrap; it can be more of a feeling or a realization or revelation. Today Rob and our family received just that kind of gift: it came in the form of good news — the results from his PET scan done yesterday afternoon. The news is that the malignancy level has been significantly diminished. So, even though the size of the tumor seems not to have shrunk, the chemo has been doing what it should do. The gift for us today was not something we could unwrap — it was something ever so much better!