The only Christmas parties I can remember attending were those at school and those at nursing homes.
My mom later worked in a nursing home and that's where we went after school until she got off work. We have oh so many stories to tell about that.
We picked up people from the nursing home and gave them a ride to church in our car. Mr. Cooper, Gracie - maybe, And Galen who had Down's Syndrome.
Later mom was in charge of a whole big bus with a lift on it that we used to take all kinds of people to church. And I mean all kinds.
At the time, I so much disliked all of this. I really did. But I didn't have much say in it.
My mother also made us go to church. Even on Sunday nights when Little House on the Prairie or Wonderful World of Disney was on. We could have stayed home with dad, but no... we had to go sit through a sermon instead. One of those nights when I was nine, I accepted Jesus as my savior.
So, when I went to college I had to have a "Christian Service." I actually had more than I needed to, because I am my mother's daughter. One of those...working on the bus with a lift that picked up all kinds of people at nursing homes and the local mental health home and taking them to Sunday School.
I go to church now because I want to.
I know how to be compassionate toward people who aren't like me. I know how to talk to someone who may have a mental illness or have Alzheimer's.
I won't even take the time to talk about all the animals my mom rescued. But when I see a stray dog, or horse, or donkey, I know what to do.
My mom, the defender of the weak and misunderstood. Lover of the odd and displaced. She doesn't believe that anyone is too old, too sick, or too mentally incapacitated for the Grace of God to reach. People have come to know Christ through her ministry whom no one else would even think to talk to.
Sometimes I see my mother in myself. That goes for the good and the bad, but I wouldn't want to be any other way.