Archive for Christmas

The Third Gift of Christmas

stained glassChristmas is a difficult season for someone whose doctor has announced, “I think you should consider hospice.”

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Christmas is a difficult season when caring for a dying loved one . . . or being the one cared for.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Christmas is a difficult season if it’s the first holidays without a beloved child or spouse or parent.

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace.

In my neighborhood, lights twinkle along the darkening streets. Santas and snowmen and manger scenes sprawl across lawns. Families gather around tables. Colleagues join for parties at work. Children tremble with excitement and parents weary of telling the kids to be good. In cathedral’s large and sanctuary’s small, millions will meet on Christmas Eve, singing the familiar carols.

But your world is crushed. Read More →

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Bright Red Socks

319I met my first hospice patient during the cold weeks before Christmas of 1989. At the time, I was also shoeless, but at least I had my socks on.

Did my red socks display jolly Santas, lush Christmas trees or a host of singing angels? I don’t remember. But I recall the snow, my December breath adrift like miniature clouds and the long tramp from the driveway to a stranger’s house. An hour or so outside of Madison, Wisconsin, the brittle night air contained the smell of cattle from the barn as my steps crunched on the icy path leading to the front door.

The door opened shortly after I knocked.

“I’m Larry,” I said. “I had called and asked–”

“Yes, of course, come inside before you freeze. We’re glad you came.”

I shook the hand of a woman I’d never met. Other members of her family voiced their greetings. An unseen Christmas tree cast splinters of red and green light against the wall. Evidence of baking, maybe cookies, teased my nose.

Someone offered to take my coat. Then, after a cleared throat, one of my greeters quietly asked, “Would you mind taking your shoes off? Read More →

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