Christmas. A time to reflect and celebrate the birth of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. A time to be with family and friends and to celebrate the gift of life. However, these feelings and memories can turn on a dime when difficulties arise. I feel compelled to share my Christmas story with you.
My parents loved Christmas. My childhood was filled with memories of bringing home real Christmas trees, decorating the tree and the home, and hanging ornaments. Each year, my parents would buy my brother and I a new ornament for the tree, usually symbolizing something that had happened in the previous year. One of my favorites is a little mouse with glasses, bought my fifth grade year when I started wearing glasses. Memories of hot chocolate and gift opening flood my mind and my heart as I reflect on those times.
However, all of that changed in the mid 1990’s. In the first year of our marriage, 1995, my wife and I received a call on Christmas Eve. My dad told us that my mom had a heart attack and to come to Tennessee quickly. While she survived that episode, four months later, she had a heart aneurism that killed the bottom third of her heart. We were told that she would have no more than five years to live. While we were caring for Mom, knowing the prognosis, my dad contracted pancreatic cancer in the spring of 1997. I told the oncologist to let me know when my dad was in the last weeks of his life so I could take a leave of absence to care for him. I got that call on December 18 and left the next afternoon to care for my dad. Christmas of 1997 was spent watching my father lose his battle to cancer, which he succumbed to on January 9, 1998.
We moved my mom to live with us in Illinois in the summer of 1998, knowing that she did not have much time left herself. On November 2nd, she had a heart episode that placed her in the hospital, never to return home. She underwent open heart surgery in Chicago, which lead to a stroke. She was placed in hospice care for the remaining two months of her life. Christmas of 1998 was spent sitting by my mom’s bed, watching her waste away and speak incoherently as a result of the stroke. She passed away on January 27, 1999. The one saving grace in that time for us was welcoming our first son, Jeremiah, into the world on March 16.
Since those times, Christmas has never been the same for me. As a family, we seldom decorate or get a Christmas tree. We have treated Christmas as a time to reconnect as a family, but the idea of ornaments, trees, and lights no longer appeal to me the way they once did. I am grateful for a wife and sons who understand my struggles and have never pressured me to do things at Christmas that might make me feel uncomfortable.
I do not write this to garner sympathy, nor to pine for lost memories. Rather, I write this because I am guessing that my situation at Christmas is not unique. There are plenty of people who have stories far worse than mine who struggle at this time of year. Like every day of the year, Christmas Day lends itself to opportunities to celebrate life and to minister and love people. Perhaps you know of someone who struggles with Christmas. Could I encourage you to reach out and minister to those who are hurting? Invite them for a meal? Share your family and your holiday cheer with someone? Christ came to earth with the purpose of honoring and glorifying His Father in a perfect manner that led to the reconciliation of God to His children. He repaired a broken relationship that only He could repair. He loved hurting people. Can we do any less?
May God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas season!
Donald D. Mitchell
The Andes Central Dakota Christian Thunder traveled to Gregory on Tuesday December 6, 2016 for the first game of the season. The coaches for this year's girl’s basketball season are head coach Shane Niewenhuis, assistant and JV coach Ben Kroese, and JH and assistant coach April Long.
The junior high dressed and were on the court at 5:30. They hustled but lost in the battle. The JV game started at 6:30. Pulling away with the win, the score concluded at 34-10.
The Varsity team for the the ACDC Thunder includes two seniors: Ahna Vander Pol and Shaylin Stotz. Juniors are Megan Mudder, Sada DeLange, Beulah Black Cloud, and Lily Flying Hawk. Sophomores are Sidney Muckey and Brianna Deurmier. Concluding the team is one freshman Isabel Pheifer and one eighth grader Mackenzie Muckey.
The starting line up for the Thunder is Ahna Vander Pol, Shaylin Stotz, Megan Mudder, Beulah Black Cloud, and Lily Flying Hawk. After the starting line ups for the Thunder and Gorillas was concluded, the jump was in the air.
The Thunder scored 14 points in the first quarter; leading by 5 points at the end of the first quarter. Concluding the first half, the Thunder was ahead 35-26 at halftime. The second half started off slowly but picked up after the end of the third quarter still ahead at 49-41. Kicking it into gear, the Thunder scored a whopping 21 points to close out the night with the victory. The final score concluded at 70-54.
Ahna Vander Pol scored a solid 28 points for the Thunder along with 6 steals. Beulah Black Cloud chipped in with 12 points and Mackenzie Muckey collected 7 rebounds for ACDC.