Christmas along the way….


 My husband and I recently spent ten days in mid-December visiting friends in North Carolina.  On our journey, I found glimpses of Christmas, and I want to share these three with you:


The first thing I noticed was the rain, a slow drizzle falling from a gloomy sky.  Sitting near the window at the boarding gate in Atlanta’s airport, I stared out at our waiting plane.  Then I noticed him…a soldier in  Army dress, standing in the rain near the plane’s loading door.  And I knew.

A few moments later, the pilot walked up and spoke briefly to the solider. Then I saw it. A flag draped coffin was slowly and carefully brought forward while the soldier snapped to attention and saluted, as did the pilot. And it rained on them and the coffin, which slowly disappeared into the bowels of the plane.

Once everyone had boarded, the pilot came out to address the passengers. He explained that our plane was privlieged to bring a fallen hero home to his family in Raleigh, NC. Then he introduced the young soldier I had seen, explaining that he was the “best buddy” of the deceased. Finally, he explained that we would have to wait on the plane while the escort soldier exited and went down to receive the casket.

The passengers broke into applause. There were no complaints as we quietly waited until we were free to deplane. As we walked toward  baggage claim, I noticed people gathering at the windows overlooking our plane. We had been told there would be a brief military service there, and that our baggage would be delayed until it was completed.

I felt gratified to know that our fallen soldiers were treated with the respect and gratitude that they deserve. And yes, we all waited again, an extra 15 minutes or so for our baggage.

And I thought of the family whose wait was over. The family out there in the dark night, receiving their son home at last. And I thought of their Christmas tears…like the rain.

Christmas at the Cross.



It was late when we drove into Greenville, NC, so we dropped off our luggage at the hotel and headed directly to the 6pm Mass. We knew ahead of time that it would be a youth choir with guitars and keyboard, but they were actually good, so I didn’t really mind.

We sat behind a young couple who had an infant son, not more than two months old. He was dressed all in green, and wearing what appeared to be a handmade crocheted cap. As usual when seated near children, my eyes kept wandering over to him. I thought of this lovely young couple soon to celebrate their first Christmas with their baby. Remembering our first Christmas with our son, I felt happy anticipation for them.

After receiving Our Lord, I knelt behind the young mother who was now seated and rocking her son gently in her arms. She had removed his cap, and his soft brown hair was visible. The choir began singing the thanksgiving song after Holy Communion: Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

And I found myself carried back to that night so long ago, when another Mother cradled her Infant Son. Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

I wondered it the young mom before me was struck by her identity with Mary, as mother loving son…so touchingly portrayed in the lyrics of this song. To me, the young mom and her baby were an icon which drew me into a tender glimpse of Christmas….
Mary, did you know…that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb? The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

Christmas in Bethlehem.


Returning Home

The woman seated to my husband’s left on the plane noticed when I reached into my purse for the aspirin bottle.

“Well, you won’t get a blood clot while flying, will you?”

I laughed and told her that I actually had a headache, and never worried about blood clots since I was always taking aspirin.

We exchanged a few other pleasant words, and then the plane began to land.  As I gathered my things and prepared to enter the aisle, I wished her a Merry Christmas.

“We celebrate Yule,” she told me.  Seeing my surprise, she explained further, “Winter Solstice.  We celebrate on the 22nd.”

“Oh, well have fun,”  I said, like an idiot.

But I prayed for this lady as I exited the plane.  And I have prayed for her since, and will pray for her each time the Lord brings her to mind.  I will especially pray for her at Mass on Christmas.  I believe God puts such people in my path and yours, just to gather prayers for them.  He is so Merciful!  I hope that this lady will one day find her Savior.

Would you say a prayer for her too?

Jesus, it was for such as this woman that you were born…for all of us who are lost or who have been lost, that Your Love might find and save us.   She, most of all, reminded me why You came.  You are Savior!  May You be forever praised!

Christmas hope…..


10 thoughts on “Christmas along the way….

  1. The soldier story was so vivid and touching. Thank God for these men and women – and for the sacrifices their families have made. And…Yes, I will surely pray for the young lady celebrating Yule…and I will Hope.

    • Hi Dana! Merry Christmas…almost!
      Yes, I feel that way about the soldiers and their families too. I felt so honored that both men were on our plane, and I prayed for the respose of the soul of the fallen hero. It was heartbreaking to know his family was waiting for him…. God bless them.
      Thanks for praying for the lady on our return trip. She wasn’t “young.” She was actually a grandmother, and enroute to her daughter’s house to look after her grandchildren during the holidays. They are only seven and nine. It sounded like the whole family was going to celebrate “yule,” which was especially sad. I often think: “There but for the grace of God…..” I’ll be hoping along with you. Thanks, Dana.

  2. Oh my heart breaks for the fallen soldiers and their families and friends.

    It’s beautiful how you were sensitive to the views of Christmas from the Holy Spirit…It’s like’ The Christmas Carol ‘in reverse..: )

    I will pray for the woman on the plane and the fallen soldier.

    Thank you for blessing is with this .

    Love you Patricia +

    • I know how you feel, Caroline. Seeing the flag draped coffin, and knowing that we were flying this young hero home really made it seem so real..not like something that we just see on the news.

      I love the Christmas Carol! My husband and I watch all the different versions which show up on tv : )
      But I save It’s a Wonderful Life for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day! Just love that!

      Thanks for joining me in prayer for the soldier and that poor woman and her family. Please pray for Lisa as well. Got word from Camille tonight that the cancer is all over. Lisa had surgery and has an infection now. But they still hope she can be home for Christmas. Doesn’t sound good….

      Love you too, Caroline,

  3. Patricia,
    Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts and reflections from your trip. I watched a film awhile ago that showed exactly what the military escort’s job is when escorting a fallen soldier home; he never leaves the soldier’s body until it arrives at its destination. What a privilege to be aboard this plane.
    I spent three years in Greenville, NC. The weather we are having now here in NJ reminds me of my mild winters there. I will pray for that woman who celebrates Yule. New Age , occultism is a scary and dangerous path.
    Continued prayers also for Camille, Lisa and their family.
    Have a blessed and Merry Christmas.
    God bless.

    • Hi Karinann, I’m sorry it took so long to respond…being out of town, being sick and Christmas preparations just about did me in : )
      I can’t believe you lived in Greenville, NC also! That’s amazing. Did you attend East Carolina University? My husband worked at DuPont in Kinston, NC when we lived there…for 4 1/2 years. It was such a small, quiet town then. It has totally changed since we were there in the 70’s.

      Thank you for praying for the woman on the plane. She is on a dangerous path, and sadly it seems her daughter and grandchildren are on it with her.

      Please continue prayers for Camille, Lisa and family. Camille wrote shortly before Christmas to say there is no good news. The cancer seems to heave spread everywhere. I am so sorry for this family. May God be their strength.

      Thank you so much for caring, Karin. God bless you. And, may you have a most Blessed New Year!

  4. Welcome home Patricia, I thought about you and your friends ( and prayed for them, too) while you were away.

    I have an acquaintance from my old job that likes to keep in touch, and I honestly don’t know why because she is a Wiccan and never misses an opportunity to mock Christians. Sometimes, I think she really wants to be a Christian but is too wrapped up in the disappointments of her life to submit. There are times quite honestly when I’d just like to tell her to kiss off, but then I know this would not serve any purpose except to let off some steam. So yes, I do believe these people are put in our paths for us to pray for them.

    Your account of the fallen soldier was beautiful. May he rest in peace.

    Oh, btw, Matthew, my ever-considerate son, bought me a bottle of Excedrin Migraine pills. I have to say they have helped. They take the wicked edge off the headache. I told him he could ask Santa to fill my stocking with them. Have you tried them?

    So glad you’re back safe and sound!
    Love and prayers

    • It’s good to be home, Joyce! Remind me never to go out of town again in December! I had the most stressful Christmas in forever…. I kept trying to find the lesson in it from the Lord. I tell you; I was poorer than the little drummer boy when I showed up at the Christmas creche. All of my plans for Advent preparations fell by the wayside, and I missed holy hours for three weeks because of being away, and then being sick. But I did learn that Christmas still comes, even when I’m not ready or prepared. Jesus comes, and that’s all that really matters.

      Maybe your Wiccan friend likes to keep in touch because she is drawn to Christ present in you…even though she doesn’t realize it’s Him. God help these poor people who are so lost. I wish I could have found out something about the background of the woman on the plane…how she got to that sad place she is.

      Matthew is a sweetheart! I tried Excedrin years ago, but the big jolt of caffeine made me so hyper. I do know that a lot of people with migraine swear by them. I will have to give them a try again…maybe starting with just one plus an aspirin and a tylenol.

      Actually, a month ago, my neurologist gave me Botox injections in my neck and certain muscles in the face, and it has really helped. I still have headaches, but no really major ones so far, and more pain free periods. The FDA approved Botox for people who suffer 15 or more days/month with headaches. My neck is so much more relaxed; it’s wonderful. I hope it doesn’t wear off before the next appointment…3 months apart.

      Enjoyed all your Christmas pictures. I love that it’s still Christmas, in the liturgical year. Merry Christmas, Joyce, and a very happy and holy New Year.

      Much love,

    • Anne, thank you for the kind words. What a great God we have…with Him, there is always hope! I still think about the lady on the plane…
      I hope Christmas at the Bender house was most joyful! I always think large families must have such wonderful Christmases. I much prefer people over presents : ) But my family is very small now. Maybe some grandchildren one of these days…..

      Wishing you all the best in the New Year. Hopefully, all of us will grow much closer to our dear Lord.
      Love and prayers,

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