One Christmas tradition that has continued after the death of both my parents has been a Christmas Eve "lighting of the candles" with my sister and her extended family. The Malone children, their children, and my sister's extended family have dinner together and then conclude the activity by gathering in somewhat of a circle, pass out the white candles, and prepare to share what this year has meant to each, young and old, as the candles are lighted one by one.
My observation this year was that every family spoke of trials they had encountered during the year. Not in a "feel sorry for me" way, but of a sweetness that comes only from being tried and living to tell about it, only to be tried and tested again.
Some say, this year of 2009 was second only to the Great Depression in it's effect upon our lives and previous standards of living. I will leave my comments about that to a future blog ... but only reference it now to make the point that 2009 will indeed be remembered as a year of universal trial. Some of us, however, will remember 2009 as a year to be forgotten, and that would be a shame if we forget.
As our family lit our candles, and expressed what was on our mind and heart, there was a common thread weaving itself through our relationships, other than a common bloodline. We had been tried and had managed to still love one another. Another common thread evident in our remarks was feelings for God and His Son Jesus Christ. Most everyone confessed a deeper love for our Savior and for His spirit touching their lives with comfort and support. No one blamed God for their misfortune or loss of revenue. No one seemed full of regret or hard feelings. We had been tried ... and were found to be humble as we shared our feelings with one another.
As in the past, "this too will pass," and once again we will experience growth and harvest. How unfortunate if we do not learn the lessons from 2009 that were taught in abundance:
1. What matters most is family ... someone to share with and sacrifice for.
2. Avoid debt.
3. Develop a skill that could be used to provide income should the need arise.
4. Don't think you have a "forever" job or occupation ...
just ask those of us who "used" to be developers of real estate.
5. Develop interpersonal skills that could be transferred from one industry to another.
6. Save a little food and a little money, for a rainy day ... or month ... or year.
7. We are happiest when we are serving others.
8. A clear conscience is a great sleep-aid. Give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay;
forgive those who trespass against you; choose honesty over the potential of gain at the
expense of others; integrity means doing the "right" thing.
9. Clip a coupon, chase a sale, celebrate the savings.
10. Remember to give God all the glory and praise for your "new found" happiness and good
fortune as it comes.
Soon, the 2009 year will be replaced with a new year and hopes of a brighter future. It is my hope and prayer that the changes in me that came as a result of trial, will not be lost or forgotten. I hope to remember the sweet feelings of the Master's embrace as I wept for an other's illness or business setbacks. How I cared enough to mourn with those who suffered loss of loved ones and friends. How I penned a gentle note of appreciation and stamped it with love.
Yes, it was a difficult year ... one that I hope will never be forgotten.