When I was around 10 years old, my mother put my sister and I in a summer program. It lasted a week for several hours a day and was pretty much just to entertain us. As a part of that program, there was a crafts hour where we were allowed to paint ceramic figures of our choice. For whatever reason, the options were all Christmas figures – something that in hindsight I’ve been forever grateful for.

The two figures I chose were Santa and a “Noel” candlestick holder. Given my young age, I don’t mind admitting that I did a pretty decent job and from that day when I brought them home, they have been precious to me. As the years have gone by, they became a powerful part of my holiday tradition.

Until that one year when I moved. When the holidays came around, I unpacked the box that was labeled “Santa and Noel” and they were gone. Not there. I went through every box I could find and quite literally tore my basement apart. I couldn’t believe that I could do something so foolish as to misplace them. I had cared for them for what must’ve been 35 years. How could they be gone?

I literally sat down on the floor and cried. It was to be my first Christmas without Santa and Noel since I was 10 years old. But I got over it because what else was there to do?

Fast forward to the next Christmas. I was going through holiday decorations because I was trying to weed out things we no longer used. And to my utter astonishment, in the bottom of a randomly labeled box, there they were! I squealed, but once again was brought to tears (this time with joy) of having them back.

I think every holiday season is one of lost and found. Every year has some form of loss in it. The loss might be small or it might be devastating. Every year also has new found treasures as well. Tiny or great, the beautiful things that have been added to our life must be counted with equal measure to the things that have left us.

As I sit writing this blog to you, I am sitting near the Christmas Tree. The golden reindeer I inherited from my mother are in view and my husband’s most recent holiday floral arrangements are on the mantle. My dogs are at my feet while “Gabriel’s Message” is playing softly in the background. My focus through part of 2020 was on the things I thought I had lost, but now that we’re near the end I see that those losses were temporary. I will get to hug my brothers again. My husband and I will get to travel to our home away from home. And yes, I will go back to my beloved Disney. Just like my Santa and Noel, the loss is temporary.

But what isn’t temporary are the things I have gained. I have changed for the better. I have grown and gotten wiser. I am more aware of the things that matter than ever before. Perhaps one of the greatest revelations to me has been that I have a bigger role to play in being of support to people who are in distress than I ever dreamed I would have. It took pandemic and my super team pointing it out for me to see that.

So, in this moment of introspection, I am very aware of just how grateful I am for 2020. And I am full of faith and hope about what 2021 will bring.

 

With love,

~Radleigh

 

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