The Red Journal

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Since 1999 my older brother has kept a Christmas journal that contains reflections on Christmas written by members of the family. Each Christmas one family member writes in the journal and then does a reading at the annual party.

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I recognize each person’s handwriting. What a special tradition.

2014 was my year. 


I wrap my children’s Christmas gifts early and put them out a couple weeks before Christmas day. If the gifts are out, you may wonder, how do I keep my children from squeezing and shaking and peeking at their packages in the days and weeks before Christmas? Wouldn’t the temptation to take a peak be just a little too strong? And what about the beautiful packaging – doesn’t it get bent and torn and worn away?

Yes and yes.

In fact, in our house there is a lot of movement of the gifts (by the children) – from upstairs in my bedroom, to down under the tree, to back up in the bedroom again. As you can imagine, there are repairs on the paper from holes and rips that, “accidentally” appeared there.photo 1 (3)

None of this bothers me. You see, I know that the majority of the pleasure derived from the gifts is experienced in the anticipation of opening them and seeing what is inside. Once opened, gifts often lose their luster and it doesn’t take long on Christmas day or the days following for the open gifts to be pushed aside and forgotten. Sweet treats from the stocking are found under the couch partially eaten and collecting dust, little makeup boxes lay empty and discarded while the eyeshadow they once contained is caked on my children’s faces or, occasionally, smeared into the sofa. The device they’ve wanted all year is discarded in preference of mom’s iPhone – as usual.

That’s OK too. As much as gifts and even lovely traditions (like this journal) are important and we hope they last for generations to come, gifts and traditions don’t make Christmas – Christmas. And Christmas will certainly not cease to be Christmas if all the gifts and traditions and trappings were taken away. The Whos taught us that.

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling:

Grinch: How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!

Narrator: And he puzzled and puzzled, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”

-Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

So, what does Christmas mean?

I think most of us would agree that Christmas is the Celebration of the birth of a Savior. Everyone here tonight knows that. We come together at this time of year to celebrate the BIRTH of a Savior. Emphasis on the word, Birth.

Now, I am not against Jesus’ birthday, Christmas traditions or gift giving; the Bible encourages traditions and even the wise men gave gifts, but if that is where our Christmas celebration ends, our disappointment is guaranteed. We are left with emptiness, much like the feeling we experience after the gifts are finally opened and we wake up on the morning of the 26th to a house full of discarded wrappings and empty boxes. It’s not enough, it’s never enough – all the amazing and beautiful, best gifts in the world or fun Christmas events and parties can never truly satisfy the longing inside of us. In fact, once Christmas is finally all over, we are often left feeling relieved.

Now let me try to say this again, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a SAVIOR, emphasis on the word, Savior. “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

The gifts will never satisfy because our hearts are longing for something much greater and more lasting – our forever home – heaven, Eternity with God Himself. A place and a time where the celebration will not be focused on the Savior’s birth but a place and a time where the celebration is focused simply, on the Savior.

Think of the generations of worshipers from the very first; those of old who looked forward with anticipation for a Savior who would one day come, to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men, the disciples, the apostles, the early church, the very first believers in nation after nation as the Gospel spread all over the world and even to this present day. Imagine all those who have gone before us, and the true believers who are celebrating Christmas all over the world far and near even this very night. We, every true follower of Christ who has ever lived and is alive today, are invited, not just to celebrate the birth of this precious baby, but, in fact, we are all members of the wedding party in the most glorious wedding supper of all time. Rev. 19:9 “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” 

This same baby, God in human form, who entered this world in a stable and was laid in a manger grew into manhood and was victorious over death and the grave in order to give us the greatest gift ever given, one that can never be damaged or outdated or unsatisfying; the gift of Grace to save us from our sins.

And this gift, He is still offering it today. At this very moment, he is calling out to the lonely. The sick. The brokenhearted, The imprisoned. The depressed. The hungry. The dying. The lost. The deceived. The fearful. The poor. The proud. The haters. The smallest child and The aged. Those near and those far away.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Rev. 21:3-7

It’s why we celebrate – it’s what we celebrate – not just the birth of the savior – but what his birth represents – Emmanuel – God with us – our Savior has come.

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I Named My Daughter After a Barbie Movie

If you have girl children you are probably aware of the World of Barbie Movies.

Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper

Barbie: Fairytopia

Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia

Barbie as the Island Princess

Barbie in ‘A Christmas Carol’

The list goes on and on. The premise is the same, Barbie, an actress, is playing these various rolls and therefore she is not known as “Barbie” but by some other name in the movie.

12 bIn 2006 a movie, “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses” arrived in India as a Christmas gift from my mother to my two (at that time) daughters. Barbie is playing the third oldest of the twelve sisters who falls in love with her cobbler (the guy who makes her shoes). Spoiler: They get married. It could totally happen.

For two months Barbie and her eleven sisters danced across our TV screen until February when we packed up the little girls and traveled to the US to give birth to Baby #3.

     Indian culture demands a boy child and, after two female children, hopes were high that Baby #3 would be a BOY. It is illegal in India for an ultrasound technician or Doctor to reveal the sex of a baby to the parents (- too many female children aborted. Sad, true story.) Later, by the time I had an ultrasound in the US I was past 36 weeks and it was difficult for the American technician to determine the sex of Baby #3.
    Up until this point, my husband had forbidden me to discuss or even think of girl names for Baby #3, I suppose he thought we would jinx it. Therefore, as my due date loomed near, we had not a single name for a girl child.
     Although the technician could not definitively determine baby #3’s sex, she did say that she was 75% sure the baby was a girl. This was enough for me to push for a girl name discussion on the drive home. The husband was amiable and never really minded having girls and he immediately suggested “Jennifer.”
    Ack! I am a child of the 80s! Jennifer is a great name but sadly OVER used in the era of my youth and I could not help but recoil from the name (my sincerest apologies to any Jennifers or Jennifer mothers reading this – I’m just keeping it real.)  However, being the compromising sort I immediately offered the name, “Genevieve” for consideration.
     Genevieve had never been on my Baby Name List before that moment but it just popped out and it was still “Jen” and I liked it. A lot.
      So did he. A few weeks later we held a precious 8lb Genevieve in our arms.Gen
  Three months later we packed up our growing family and returned to our Indian home. It wasn’t long until Barbie was once again dancing across our TV screen.
     I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen of our little house one evening and overhearing the sounds of the TV in the other room.
     “Genevieve…” one of the movie characters said. Huh? What? I rushed into the living room.
      It was true.
    I had named my child after Barbie’s character in Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses. And I didn’t even know it. Subliminally the name must have been circulating in my head for months, waiting to for its chance. Sigh. As humiliating as this confession is, I do LOVE the name Genevieve and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I suppose I should thank Barbie, not just for delivering such a great name, but also for saving me from a Jennifer.
     Thank you Barbie.
  In a side note of more weirdness, my oldest daughter’s name is “Eve.” It took me a whole year before I realized the connection. Genevieve and Eve. Sigh. Duh. Sigh again. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it gets confusing around the house – which one am I calling…  I have no excuse. 
     For more of the weirdness that is my life, follow me on bloglovin’! 
    (I apologize for the horrid formatting and lack of paragraph spacing – WordPress is freaking out on me. 😦  )

I Gave Birth in India (Part 2 of 4)

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Her due date was February 15th, but she hung in there an extra two weeks just for kicks. Finally, the contractions began and by this point I. Was. Ready. I’d had my previous two children naturally without drugs and with a midwife, my preferred method, but it HURT. And I’m gonna be real honest here – I HATED the actual birthing process. Still do. SO THANKFUL I never have to do that again. P. coming late was a blessing, I was past the point of fearing the pain and at the This Needs To Happen stage.

So, whoopdeedo, February 28th rolled around and I was ready to go at last. I called my doctor to let her know I was coming in and, you guessed it, here comes the wrench in the plan, the hospital lady who sleeps next to the phone at night informed me that my doctor was in Mumbai for the weekend. And just like that, I was doctor-less and had nowhere to go.

By eleven o’clock at night my husband had driven to six maternity hospitals in the city, one by one. No one would take me. I wasn’t their patient, why should they? I get it. I can now relate to Mary in Bethlehem. No doctor in the hospital? Won’t take new patients? No room in the Inn? Been there. All I really wanted was to find a place to squeeze this baby out and a person to catch her at the other end. A stable makes perfect sense.

After several phone calls from my husband on the road informing me there was nowhere to go, I finally said, (I honestly said this) “Go to the slums, find a midwife and bring her to the house. We’ll do it here.” I was totally serious.

In the end, a family friend, who was a nurse and used to work for an OB/GYN interceded for us. My husband caught the doctor in his parking lot leaving his hospital at midnight and convinced him to admit me. This is where the fun began.

This is Part 2 of 4. Find links here for Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.

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I Gave Birth in India (Part 3 of 4)

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I was admitted at midnight on a Saturday/Sunday morning. This is important because the doctor and his wife were opening a BEAUTIFUL, MAGNIFICENT, MILLION DOLLAR Maternity Hospital at noon on Sunday. I was 12 hours too early.  Sigh.

Yes. It mattered.

The new hospital was not inaugurated, read – Not open until Sunday afternoon. I had to deliver in the old hospital. Now, when I say old, think India old. Think: they knew they were moving to a new facility and had allowed the old one to go to crap old. I didn’t even have a room, which was fine since I was happy to roam the crumbling halls til she came out. They did, however, place a cot in their file closet for me. So, that was nice.

Boom, when she came, she came fast. By my fourth child I knew when we were in the homestretch. I was beyond the point of words so I grabbed a passing teenage girl. Seriously, she might have been eighteen. I hoisted myself up onto the delivery table and man I REALLY wish I had some pictures. Words cannot adequately describe the filthy state of the table I delivered on.

Rusty metal table.

Thick, green plastic cover on top in use since forever.

It was ancient and stained with unimaginable things. And when I say unimaginable things I mean blood, gore, amniotic fluid, fecal matter, etc. Of course.

Let’s just say, it was crusty and I didn’t care. 

This is Part 3 of 4. Find links here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4.

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I Gave Birth in India (Part 4 of 4) The End

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I’m a bad pusher. I know this to be true. I’ve witnessed many a birth in my life and I’ve even delivered a baby myself – that’s a WHOLE ‘nother story. The point is, I KNOW that I am a bad pusher. I do, however, try. I shout at the top of my lungs. I say things like, I can’t. I can’t. I can’t… And then… I do. Finally.

P. was born in India at 1:24AM with an old Gujarati floor washer pushing on my tummy, a teenager playing catcher between my legs and a sweet friend by my side.

That would be a really nice ending to this story but dang it, that’s when the doctor decided to show up. Oh, Hello doctor. Thanks for not being here. Oh, now you want to come do some doctor stuff? I’m going to get graphic here and if you can’t handle it skip on down to the next paragraph. Minutes after giving birth and simultaneously tearing open my episiotomy scar (that’s a word you don’t want to Google – ew), the doctor reached his entire hand through my ravaged vagina and into my recently emptied uterus. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? He used his ARM to clear out my uterus. It. Hurt. Worse. Than. The. Actual. Birthing. Of. My. Child.

The good news is, I obviously survived to tell the tale.

In the end, I shuffled back to my file room, pale and sore but oh so happy. She was out, and in my arms. And she was perfect.

Will Smith ears and all.

The End. Or, should I say, The Beginning.

This is Part 4 of 4. Find links here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

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