Once again, and with increasing rapidity, the Christmas season is upon us. For the Meade family, this has always been a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our savior and Lord as the focus of the season and the celebration. Having raised our children in a tropical country, customs were different, so we amalgamated the American traditions and Colombian traditions into our own unique blend of Christmas cheer. For one thing, Colombians did not have a tradition of Santa Claus with his sleigh and reindeer. That would be a real stretch in the tropical heat of the Colombian jungle/prairie region.

In Colombia, it is the Christ child that brings the gifts on Christmas eve; at the time of the mid-night mass. So we managed to always have some sort of Christmas tree, beginning with some bush that my wife would glue cotton to and decorate with home made ornaments. Later we took in a small artificial tree from the States. We then would read the Christmas story on Christmas eve and exchange our gifts. It was a simple but special time and one that our children remember with great fondness. Now, even when here in the States, we tend to follow that same, Christ centered time of family devotion and sharing. For us, it just fits.

This year we enter the Christmas season with a totally different outlook. There is the fact that Jeanie was diagnosed with breast cancer only six weeks ago and since that time we have been overwhelmed with the deluge of information and the required appointments with one specialist after another. Two weeks ago she had a mastectomy and is still recovering from that. Now, on the 14 of December, a mere ten days before our Christmas, she has begun chemo. We have been so busy there has been no time for decorations, cookie baking, or even our yearly Christmas card that Jeanie makes and then sends out. The reality of an advanced stage cancer has occupied our time and energies.

But one thing has not changed and that is our focus on our Lord and Savior at this time of year. In fact, if anything, the implications of this disease cause us to focus ever more sharply on the incredible miracle of new life in Christ. In spite of the challenges we currently face, we are so grateful for all that God has done in sending His Son. We are thankful to have so many dear friends and committed team members to pray for Jeanie as you express your concerns. We are ever more mindful that it is that rich blessing of fellowship of caring brothers and sisters in Christ that is our greatest wealth at a time such as this.

It has been said that there are people so poor that all they have is money, and that is ironically true. In our case we have a great richness in your love and concern, all of which is born out of the love and concern demonstrated by God for us on that first Christmas, so many years ago. So this year, even though we can send no cards, we send our “holy day” greetings to you, and we wish a very happy Christmas time from our family to yours. May God bless each and every one of you just as each of you has so blessed us with your prayers and expressions of concern. Merry Christmas to all of you from the Meade family, your friends and co-workers in Christ.