Thursday, December 21, 2006

our christmas letter to paulette

i thought this might be appropriate to share. it is hard to know how much to share here because these things are so highly personal and sacred. yet, so many of you reading pray for and love paulette, it becomes quite a balancing act.

merry christmas paulette!!!
we hope you have a wonderful time and the oranges have made it to you safely. if they have, you are more lucky than we are. those are the best oranges in all of the world. they come from the tree in the allred's back yard. whenever i go home, i bring some back with me. we hope you love them.

we have attached a special christmas story for you. we want you to know that we love you. we are working hard to figure out a place you can call home. we really hope that this year you are able to find yourself living in a permanent place, with people that love you and will love you forever. we pray daily for this. if we could give you anything, that is what we would give you. no matter what, we want you to know that we will always love you. we will be your fRamily forever.

with loads of love,
kimberly and lindsay

The Three Levels of Christmas

Isn't Christmas a wonderful time of the year? We love the excitement, the giving spirit, the special awareness of and appreciation for family and friends, and the universal feelings of love and brotherhood that bless our gatherings at Christmastime.

In all the joyfulness, it is well to reflect that Christmas comes at threes levels. Let us call the first the Santa Claus Level. It's the packages, candle-lights, rich food and warm open houses. It's carolers in the shopping malls, excited children, and weary but loving parents. It's a lovely time of special warmth and caring and giving. It's the level at which we eat too much, spend too much and do too much – and we love and enjoy every minute of it.

But there's a higher, more beautiful level. Let's call it the Silent Night Level. It's the level of our glorious Christmas carols and of that beloved, familiar story: "Now in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…." It is the level of the crowed inn and the silent, holy moment in a dark stable when the Son of God came to earth. Its shepherds on steep, bare hills near Bethlehem, angels with their glad tidings a new star in the East, wise men traveling far in search of the Holy One. How beautiful and meaningful it is; how infinitely poorer we would be without this sacred second level of Christmas.

The trouble is, these two levels don't last. They can't. Twelve days of Christmas, at the first level, is about all most of us can stand. It's too intense, too extravagant. The tree dries out and the needles fall. The candles burn down. The beautiful wrappings go out with the trash, the carolers are up on the ski slopes, the toys break, and the biggest day in the stores the entire year is exchange day, December 26. The feast is over and the dieting begins. But the lonely and the hungry are with us still, perhaps lonelier and hungrier than before.

Even the second level of the Baby Jesus, can't last. How many times can you sing "Silent Night"? The angels and the star and the shepherd, even the silent, sacred mystery of that Holy Night itself, can't only satisfy humanity's basic need. The man who keeps Christ in the manager will, in the end, be disappointed and empty.

No, for Christmas to last all year long, for it to grow in beauty and meaning and purpose, for it to have the power to change lives, we must celebrate it at a third level. That of the adult Christ. It is at this level – not as an infant – that our Savior brings His gifts of lasting joy, lasting peace, lasting hope. It was the adult Christ who reached out and touched the untouchable, who loved the unlovable, who so loves us all that even in His agony on the cross He prayed forgiveness for His enemies.

This is the Christ who created worlds without numbers, who wept because so many of us lack affection and hate each other -- and then who willingly gave His life for all of us, including those for whom He wept. This the Christ, the adult Christ, who gave us the perfect example and asked us to follow Him.

Accepting that invitation is the way – the only way – to celebrate Christmas all year and all life long.

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