Today, my friend Judiann posted on Facebook that all of her Christmas cards had been mailed, all of her presents bought AND wrapped AND under the tree, all of her baking done, her house cleaned and totally decorated. and was rewarding herself by sitting down to relax.  “What the hay?”  I thought. “It’s only December 13th!  What’s the rush?”

Pondering on my own state of affairs, I rationalized that I had two trees halfway decorated, had hung the wreath on the door although it was missing a few flowers, but I HAD spent the morning perusing Amazon for gift ideas (for my friends reading this, don’t think you won’t be surprised THIS year!). Feeling ever so motivated, I was just about to kind of seriously think about addressing my Christmas cards, when I saw, again on Facebook, that another friend, Cheri, had requested a life on Candy Crush.   I quickly rushed to her aid and just before I could hit the button to give her that life, the doorbell rang.

Since the window to my front porch is in front of my desk (I was allegedly revising my book manuscript) I saw it was the postman with a box.  Teddie, my ferocious ten-pound fluffy white watchdog, began barking with all the intent to scare his arch nemesis into running for his life!

I’m just kidding.  He just wanted to be petted, Teddie not the postman, for they are old friends with a “love/do I really know you” relationship.

I quickly scooped Teddie up, opened the door allowing the postman to provide Teddie with a scratch behind the ear followed by Teddie licking his hand, the postman’s hand, not Teddie’s.  Without a word or look in my direction, the postman thrust a paper for me to sign while he and Teddie continued their unique communication ritual.

“Merry Christmas,” I remembered to say as the postman gunned his car, anxious to get on with his work.  Package and mail in hand, as well as a wiggling puppy, it seemed like a good time to take a break.  Candy Crush forgotten, I brewed some fresh coffee and sat down to open the mail the postman had so kindly delivered with the package.  Sure enough, there was the Christmas card from Judiann, but not just a card, it also contained her annual Christmas letter, three pages, singled-spaced, 11 font.  “Might be a 2-cup break,” I thought.

I settled in my chaise, surrounded by windows that welcomed the morning sunshine and belied the 41 degree external temperature, steaming cup of coffee in hand and with Teddie snuggling by my side, I began to read her Christmas letter.  With each word, each sentence, each paragraph, each page my eyes misted and my spirit sang “Feliz Navidad” for I was able to see, to taste, and to be part of a life so unselfishly lived that I have personally forwarded this letter to God.

I read of trips to Italy, Greece, the Caribbean, the American West, Boston, MA and Washington, D.C.   These were not just any trips.  They were adventures that enveloped friends and family as Judiann and Don (her husband) shared their lives with a special kind of unconditional caring about those of us fortunate enough to journey with them.

As I read  on, my own “mother heart” linked to Judiann’s “mother heart” as she described the notification that the fire alarm was going off in her deployed son’s house 3000 miles away.  The tension built as they confirmed the house was on fire and she couldn’t contact her son.  Frustrated and after she had done all that she could, she did what all of us would do, sat down and had a good cry.  “Why didn’t you call me to help?” I shouted out loud, only calming down when I read on to learn it turned out to be a defect in the alarm system.

Then I arrived to the part where her daughter took “Marathon Monday” off in order to attend the Boston marathon.  As is typical of her daughter’s numerous dysfunctional consumer experiences, she stopped for lunch and had to wait longer than usual for her check.  While waiting, the first explosion of that day detonated a block from the restaurant.  My heart stopped beating and I actually forgot to breathe when I read that part, finally restarting after I gasped, “Thank you God for your divine intervention in her life. Amen.”

I glided through the rest of her 2013, engrossed in her tale of organizing her husband’s army reunion, laughing out loud at the antics of these men, now sixty-something, reverting back to being young officers in a foreign county whose friendship had transcended four decades.  I cheered as she described the many birthday cakes presented to her for her “milestone” birthday, tasting each one with her descriptions.  Tears trickled as I read the bittersweet tale of a joyous family wedding followed by the mother of the bride succumbing to cancer a few short months later.  I felt her great pride in her husband continuing to be the “Belly Flop” Champion time after time on Royal Caribbean cruises, as well as being surrounded by her quiet thankfulness over having her family safe, healthy and happy as they all gathered to share Thanksgiving, remembering to be extra thankful for those who serve our country and who protect us.

Judiann thank you for sharing your Christmas letter, for sharing your way of being, and for including me in your journey.  I hope I can make my 2014 Christmas letter worth the sharing by remembering what this time of year stands for and living each moment, each day, each week throughout 2014 in honor of this gift:  “”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16