Headlines from First Thoughts

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tuesday, December 5- Unpacking the Decorations

It's the ritual that begins Advent at the Shiell home. We unpack the decorations, or at least, Kelly does. My job is to retrieve them-- some from the garage, others from the basement. We have the annual worry and concerns: "Which lights are broken, which are working, which ornaments are broken." We discover that someone under the cover of darkness has sneaked into the boxes of lights, unplugged one bulb from the very end of the strand (thus causing all to be useless), and somehow tangled all the others together. It's quite fun.

When a strand of lights carefully packed last year becomes the object of frustration, perhaps it reminds us of the unique discoveries about our own lives this time of year. When family arrives and friends reunite, we discover rearranged lives, a tangled web, and the individual whose life seems to shine more dimly. I wish we could chalk the effects up to the gremlins in the basement. Unfortunately, the causes are more lifelike. Words spoken in frustration, dreams and plans that change, mistakes made, and pathways chosen lead to the annual holiday discovery: "a lot can change in a year."

So before you throw up your hands in frustration, however, remember that people are different than strands of lights. We can untangle, we can change, we can be different, and hearts can glow again. But it takes more than an annual checkup. It will take timing, listening, understanding, and the reminder that at this time of year, angels have much more power than years of regret. Even if those regrets seem to be retrieved every year, with hope and prayer, so much can change in a year.

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