ANN BAILEY: Christmas is a wonderful time to count one’s blessingsThis Christmas season, I am once again reminded that the most precious gifts are those that can’t be purchased. The gifts of faith, family and friends are priceless to me and I wouldn’t trade any of them for all of the wealth in the world. My Catholic faith has given me hope as I trudge through life’s deep valleys and been for me a constant source of truth in an ever-changing world.
This Christmas season, I am once again reminded that the most precious gifts are those that can’t be purchased.
The gifts of faith, family and friends are priceless to me and I wouldn’t trade any of them for all of the wealth in the world. My Catholic faith has given me hope as I trudge through life’s deep valleys and been for me a constant source of truth in an ever-changing world.
Meanwhile, my family and friends have given me unconditional love and support and reminded me countless number of times, through the way they live their lives, the things that are really important in life.
Another gift for which I am grateful is good health, both my own and that of the people I love.
This year, I am rejoicing that my 7-year-old daughter, Ellen, is healthy. Ellen finished two and a quarter years of chemotherapy treatment for leukemia this past August. This is a blessing for our entire family, but most of all for Ellen.
After spending nearly a third of her young life taking daily oral chemo, receiving monthly IVs of chemo through her port and every three months through spinal taps, Ellen is happy to be living a life that doesn’t revolve around medication and doctor appointments. Being a “normal kid” is something that most children take for granted, but one that she does not, and likely, never will
While Ellen doesn’t talk much about being sick, every once in awhile she mentions something that makes me realize that she thinks about it more than anyone knows. The other day, for example, she was talking about going to stay overnight at the house of two of her best friends (they’re twins) and said, “Mom, it’s the first time I can go to a sleepover and you won’t have to bring me my meds.”
Although Ellen took her medicine like a trooper and rarely complained about having to plan her evening around one of her oral chemotherapy medications, it obviously weighed heavily on her.
While she is thankful that she is done with chemo, Ellen is even more grateful for the health care professionals who took care of her when she was sick and during her treatment. The other night, Ellen said, out of the blue, “Mom, I’m lucky I had such good doctors and nurses or things could have turned out very differently.” Even at age 7, Ellen is aware of the important role her health care team played in her recovery.
I also am thankful for Ellen’s excellent health care team and am glad that she realizes that its members were an integral part of her remission from cancer. I believe that being grateful is a gift because it makes us realize that the world is not only about us, but that we are dependent on God and on other people.
It also warms my heart that even though Ellen now enjoys good health, she hasn’t forgotten that some other children do not. She often inquires about the other children that she knows have cancer and continues to want to help at events that are raising money for organizations and medical facilities that helped her when she was sick.
True meaning of Christmas
Ellen’s diagnosis of leukemia is not among the things for which I am grateful. However, I cannot deny how much her experience with cancer has impacted our family in positive ways.
We have renewed appreciation of one another, know that spending ordinary days together is extraordinary and empathize more deeply with other families who are enduring health struggles.
Whenever I start to get overwhelmed with the baking, buying and card-writing that are part of the secular Christmas, I remind myself of these many simple gifts and of the most precious gift of all, the birth of Jesus Christ. Reflecting on those things raises my spirit in a way that the worldly holiday season cannot.
Warmest Christmas wishes to all.