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The Ghosts of Christmas Past, The Joy of Christmas Present, The Hope of Christmas Future

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Christmas has always been a mixed bag for me. I have had some fabulous Christmases, like the one in 1992. I was living with a roommate in a beautiful duplex in Beverly Hills, I had a great job that I thought would launch me into my screenwriting career, and I had just received some inheritance money. That was a great year for presents all around!

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But there have been the painful ones, most recently in 2017, when we buried my sister on Christmas Eve. While I was surrounded by loving family, the joy of the season had pretty much been sucked dry. Truth be told, the grief from that loss still returns, even six years later, but this year I made a conscious decision: for every moment where grief sought to creep in, I would choose to rejoice in what Is, rather than focus on what isn’t. Our biggest point of rejoicing is that we are no longer in California. If you are following my Travels with Maddie journal, we moved across the country to Alabama, and we couldn’t be happier. We have a lovely home with a huge yard for the fur babies, and even more important, we are surrounded by loving community.

We are also healthier than we have been in a while! Lynn has put on weight (he battles ulcerative colitis and has been far too skinny for too long) and has more energy than I have seen in a number of years. My glucose numbers are way down and inflammation almost nonexistent. I am still dropping weight, despite barely exercising and eating quite well. The Southern life agrees with us, apparently.

And for the first time in several years, we have hope for the future. We are no longer just surviving, but thriving! Even better, we now have the ability to rebuild, and are actively working toward that goal.

Where does this Christmas Season find you? It’s wonderful if all things are Merry and Bright. But it is also perfectly fine if you are experiencing a struggle with holding on to Joy. I have been there, and at varying times this Advent season, have returned there. More importantly, our Lord is there with us. One of the names given to Jesus by the Prophet Isaiah is, “Emmanuel,” which means “God with Us.” That has been my constant through the years, no matter what the Christmas season has held. Wherever I am, he is there as well. And not just there, but bringing his light, redemption, hope and joy with him.

Here are my wishes for a very, Merry Christmas! I leave you with some photos from Christmas past and one from Christmas present, as well as one of my favorite carols.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
  because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Luke 1:76-79

Christmas 1971 with my big brother Theodore and another Teddy.

First Married Christmas, 2007.

First Alabama Christmas, 2023.

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