This Christmas season:

We did something spontaneous—which is very unlike us—and flew to Manitoba to visit extended family for the first weekend of Advent. We were moved by the dramatic recitation of Luke 2 by my ninety year old father in law but my mother in law could not be there because she was in the hospital.

I stayed out of the malls but I did have to enter the parking lot once which traumatized me for days to come.

I cried twice in public: once at a theatre production of “A Christmas Carol” when Scrooge surprised his nephew and guests by showing up at their party in a celebratory mood, the other time was while watching “St. Vincent” when the cranky neighbor was sainted at a school assembly. Everyone has a story. Be generous. Make the most of every moment. Honor all people. This is what I learned.

I laughed so hard I cried at our family gathering because of the wit of my youngest son’s gift to me.

We heard a blessing of peace in nine languages on Christmas Eve in our church.

After the proud unveiling of a new guest suite in our basement, my handyman skills failed me at the simple task of making some storage shelves. Always measure three times, think twice, and then wait awhile before hammering in a nail or you will experience great frustration.

I danced erratically in our living room with the other six members of my family to the rhythm of Bruce Cockburn’s “Mary had a Baby.”

The Queen reminded us that one hundred years ago the singing of Stille Nacht” and “Silent Night” stopped a war for a day.

A bus load of Israelis and Palestinians that never had an opportunity before got to worship in Bethlehem together.

People died of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Killing and threatening continued in Syria and Iraq. There are more refugees.

I have mixed emotions because the angels said, “Fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be for all people.” And yet there are a lot of people who are still very afraid. They also said, “Peace on Earth” and yet there is no peace.

While reading the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1 I noted that one newborn baby escaped to Egypt but many others were ripped from the hands of their mothers and slaughtered.

Our pastor told us that the colors of Christmas are often said to be red, green, and white but sometimes for some people Christmas is also blue. Sadness and joy comingle on this day.

Some people will die and a baby will be born in the New Year.