Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009


Well...had a few folks wanting to pass the letter to others online, guess I'll put it on my blog. May put some past Christmas letters on the blog as well, and try not to worry about telling my life story on the internet. Here you go...

Dear Friends,

You know what is scary? I have the file folder of Christmas letters that I have written in years’ past in front of me...I started writing Christmas letters in 1991, a year after I moved to Nashville. 18 years ago? No wonder I struggle with something new.

Well, they all tend to start with an update. I’ll be honest…who wouldn’t want this letter to update you on a new boyfriend, or marriage, or kids? Dang, I could have grandkids by my age now. But none of that has been God’s plan at this point. I wish that I had these blessings, and quite honestly I get a little frustrated with God on this, but don’t we all have things in our life that we simply ask God, “Why?”

We’ll get to that later…for now…another career update…and I may love my job, but it is not my life…

I’m still working for the State of Tennessee, overseeing marketing in the tourism department. I’m very blessed to have a job. Some of my wonderfully talented friends have lost jobs in this past year or so, it’s tough times and I think we’re all reminded that it can happen to any of us. I’ve been especially busy this year, traveling the highways with a new trail project that we’re working on. In a nutshell (and only describing because it has taken a large portion of MY LIFE this year), we are developing 15 self-guided driving tours (that we call trails) out of cool areas like Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains. Trails highlight “hidden gems”, including historic sites, state parks, dive restaurants and unique shopping. Tough gig for a small town girl to eat at a dive restaurant, sample a winery or take in shopping on an historic town square. It’s actually been a ton of work, specifically in research, and where are my history teachers now? Now, I’m loving history and I hated it in school. Anyway, we filmed Rascal Flatts driving in a convertible for a TV spot to promote this program, so look for that in the spring; and know that when you see them in the car, I was watching with a camera monitor in the back of a pick-up truck in front of them with my hair blowing everywhere despite the pony tail holder. Nice.

Other typical updates…home projects…a top-notch food pantry addition and that’s about it. Christmas packaging contest with my sister (who I know has no time to compete this year…), my theme is recycle. In a few days, you can go to my blog (http://www.jensadventuresandcreativeprojects.blogspot.com/) and you too can a learn how to make a bow out of a Diet Coke can or magazine pages. I know, crazy, can’t help it.

So, enough updates; now to bring some collected thoughts regarding Christmas for me this year…

I’ll start with an unfortunate experience I had this weekend while waiting at the valet outside a Nashville restaurant. Two couples, dressed nicely and coming from a Christmas party at one of the restaurants, were talking. One of the guys said, “I love Christmas, everyone is so nice and pleasant during this time of year.” I thought…well, that’s nice. It also appeared that they were a little half-lit, we should say. He then said boldly, “After all, this is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord…” and with a laugh, he said, “Wonder if Jesus enjoyed that birthday cake shot I just drank for him?”

Wow…what an approach on the holidays. I wasn’t there to judge them. But I did immediately think how sad God probably is with much of this world, if that is the respect we are having for what He did for us by sending His only Son to us, born in a manger and later to die for our sins.

Reflecting further, I thought about my own attitude with not only Christmas, but with so many things this year. I certainly could give God more respect. Not as obnoxious as my example above, maybe. But in so many ways…my daily living, in growing with a church family, in my actions, in what I give back to the world around me…God deserves a lot more than what He’s been getting from me. And sometimes, so do the folks around me.

Another thought. Most of November and the first week of December I was either traveling within Tennessee for trails or I was at sales shows from Reno to NYC. I felt like I had too much going on to plan a
Christmas Party (hope you don’t feel like I had one and you were not just were not invited). With no party and not home much, I didn’t really feel like putting up Christmas decorations either. Why go to all this work just for me and my niece-roommate (no offense, Megan)?

But…as the daughter of Suzanne Mitchell who puts up a tree in every room and tons of Christmas decorations throughout the house, I knew I would be disowned if I did not put up a Christmas tree (or two). Plus, Mom told me that my neighbors would enjoy it. So I did.

And a week later, the bottom-half of the tree’s lights went out. I just rolled my eyes. Normally, I would be checking every bulb, trying to replace the strands, something. This year, I said, “Well, top half is all you can see from outside; bottom half that isn’t lit starts right at the window sill, so who cares?” Wow…who is this person?

So…what’s my point?

It makes me wonder how many folks like myself may feel be a bit half-lit this year. Not drunk, just half-way enthused with life, stuck in routines, maybe burnt out at work or at home. Like so many of us, I feel like I’ve got so much on my plate, and it’s impossible to please everyone. And sometimes, that brings you to a point where you just quit trying.

My point is not to be a downer. My point is that we all have the ability to change our approach.

God is able and has the desire to provide a full and abundant life for all of us. We know that, right? We just need to be reminded of it, and to believe it when we don’t understand what is happening in our lives at times.

And our life may become more abundant when we worry more about what we’re giving back versus what we may not be getting. I need to do that. Look at the movie The Blind Side. Didn’t that make you want to do more? Didn’t it make you wonder what opportunities you missed, which decisions in life when you should have chosen to “stop the car?”

So the tree. Yes, without a doubt, it reminds me that we can short circuit our ability to truly shine when we get things out of balance. And if your light shines just to the outside world, and not inside from top to bottom, what’s the true joy in that?

It also reminded me that my mom, once again, was right. My neighbors would enjoy it. Because it should remind us all that we do believe in the spirit of this season. It should stand as a symbol that we are believers and we are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. And what would a world be without the reminders of Christmas tree lights and truly good cheer that God is with us, especially in a world that so often seems to encourage us to avoid Him.

Finally, I pray that all of us get a peace for those areas in our life where we ask God, “Why?” Whatever it is, He has a plan, and He is our foundation.

I hope to be a better friend, a better person in 2010. Too many missed opportunities, too many thoughts not turned into actions. I appreciate each one of you; thanks for your patience, and don’t let my schedule get the best of us.

Merry Christmas,


Jennifer

P.S. Carterville gang, Facebook friends voted for breakfast gathering to be Saturday, Dec. 26th; 9 a.m. at McDonald’s. Hope to see you there.

1 comment:

Frances said...

Jennifer,

I am constantly amazed at all that you do! Your letter was great, thought provoking and inspiring. I, too, am amazed at the disrespect and lack of awe at the real meaning of this holiday.

Like you, I hope to make 2010 a better year. I want to be a better person and to grow in my relationships with God and my friends. I want to do more!


Thanks for the great words and I wish you many Christmas blessings!

Frances