Making Christmas Mean That Much More

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the time that we spend with family and friends. I am lucky enough that I see my immediate family fairly often, but that is not the case with most of my extended family. As we all get older we move into different phases of life and often that means literally moving farther apart. If we are fortunate than the only things that separate us are temporal in nature...living in different cities, different work schedules, different hobbies/interests. But, for most of us there is at least one person that we are apart from because they are no longer living on this earth. I know that we have the ability to be with our families forever and that I will see all those who have died before me again...someday. The hard thing is that none of us really know when that someday is. Holidays can be an especially hard time for those of us who have experienced loss because of all the memories of the past and the desire to reunite again.

I have a cousin, Rory, who passed away in 1996 at the age of 10 from Cystic Fibrosis. He is someone that I miss terribly and would give anything to spend any amount of time with. He often talked about how he wanted his job in heaven to be making clouds. When we have especially rainy days here in the Northwest and I start to miss the sunshine I try to remind myself that Rory is probably just messing with us and playing another one of his pranks...and then I smile. Rory loved to make people smile and he loved to build things. One of his favorite things to do was build legos. I know my Uncle still has things that Rory spent hours building and I love when I get a chance to see them again. When I watch my own children play with legos I often find myself telling them stories about a person they will never know in this life. It is hard for me to do that lately since two of my boys are now 11 and 12. Right around the same age...watching them with their legos takes me back.
I remember that first Christmas after Rory passed--it was a lot more sober than usual, but I could tell our parent tried to keep things light. As the years pass the pain of the loss fades, but the desire to be together again never goes away. I decided to break out my bossy self and push for some changes in tradition this year. Given my strong-willed German family this had it's challenges, but in the end we came up with a plan and Christmas was wonderful!
This year our family gathering had such a different feeling and spirit present than in years past. I will always hold dear the time we spent remembering Rory...the stories that were shared made us both laugh and cry. One of the things that we did differently this year was a white elephant gift exchange! Those of us who participated in it decided to bring legos as gifts in honor of Rory. Once that exchange was over and I could look around the room at all the little clusters of lego builders my heart was full. I knew that Rory was looking down on us with smiles...for a brief time we even had a break in the clouds--a gift in itself from one who watches down on us from above.

As a family we have decided that we want to do something more next year with Christmas. Our service advent was fun and uplifting, the white elephant gift exchange was too, but we know there is more that we can do! I have had many ideas running through my mind over the last several months, but after a series of experiences in December an answer became clear to me and my family being as awesome as they are were quick to agree!
2013 will be the first year of (hopefully) many more to come where Christmas will last all year long! That spirit of love that comes into our lives through no other way than charity and the pure love of Christ. We would like to invite all of our family and friends to participate with us in whatever way they can.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that continues to have no cure. I can only imagine what it must be like for the parents and families of those living with CF today. Despite advances in research and the possibility of living into adulthood, there is still the constant awareness that your child may not live to see middle school, let alone college, marriage, and families of their own. CF affects the lungs and the digestive system which can make it difficult for children with CF to lead physically active lifestyles. Rory played with legos and found great joy in being able to build something that took time, effort, imagination, skill, and could distract him from the daily medical treatments and frequent hospitalizations. We want to find a way to bring joy like that into the lives of children living with CF! This year we will be gathering as many lego sets as we can (either by buying them ourselves or being able to receive donations) that we will be able to deliver to the major hospital in our area that provides treatment for pediatric CF patients next December in time for Christmas 2013. We believe that if we do a little bit over the whole year that in the end we will be able to make a big difference in the lives of many. If you would like to find out more about how you can directly make a difference in someone's life next Christmas please send me an email at: legosforcf (at) gmail.com
Let's get out there and be the good that we want to see in the world!


jww said...

Wow! That is AWESOME. You should post this on fb, too, so all the non-bloggers can see it, too. (Of course, you may have already posted it and I missed it!! I'm not always up on fb.) :) Anyway, I think it's fantastic. I think what you did is very sweet, and very important. And your plan for 2013 is beautiful! *hugs*