Meaning of Christmas and My Mother In-law

Christmas is here. Unfortunately, it is difficult to look back at 2001 and say anything nice.

Not long ago, we thought that the world was shrinking. “It’s a small world,” was one of the most commonly used phrases. I haven’t heard this sentence recently. Now even the U.S. feels distant! Travel across the border is not taken for granted.

Worldwide, there is news of death and destruction, of fear, terror and revenge.

Human differences have never been so much verbalised or written about. Are my fears different than yours? Is my God different than my neighbour’s? Are these differences important when millions of people are dying from illness, civil wars, starvation, terrorism and other wars? Is their God different than yours or mine?

Closer to home, many families lost their loved ones due to sickness or accident. Medical and nursing staff of Palliser Health Authority lost three of their finest: Dr. Ivan Witt, Dr. Keith Clugston and Nurse Wendy Smith. A big loss not only to their families but also to their colleagues and patients. What is more painful is that they were taken away from us so suddenly. What did their God have in mind?

Then there are people in hospitals or at home who are chronically ill and incapacitated. They are waiting to die because they are in pain. They are suffering. One such person is my 88-year-old mother-in-law who lives in Vancouver. For several weeks now she has been close to death. But continues to live. Her end is near. But we don’t know when. The family waits and flies in and out of Vancouver not knowing what to do.

If there was a case for euthanasia, then here is one. Her body is small and frail. All the body fat has disappeared. The joints are stiff and painful. The bedsores are hard to see. The muscles are wasting away. She is unable to eat or drink. She is literally starving to death.

Morphine helps relieve pain. Her dutiful son, who has looked after her for so many years, waits and watches in helpless despair. “What can I do to make it easy for my mother without prolonging her sufferings?” he keeps asking. The best thing is to keep her pain free and comfortable. But it is painful to watch. He wants to be at the bedside until the end.

I wonder what his God is thinking about?

But we know life isn’t fair. Whether it is your God or mine, He has His game plan. And there isn’t much we can do except learn to be descent human beings. Share and enjoy what we have with those who are struggling in life. I think the God of the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others teach the same thing – be nice and help others.

Time and again we have learnt that life is too short. But greed and exploitation continues. Yesterday’s friends are enemies today. And yesterday’s enemies are friends today. It is no secret that ruthless exploiters (I wonder if their God is different than yours or mine) take full advantage of the majority of the people who are honest, descent, and God-fearing individuals.

The message of Christmas transcends all religions and human beings. It is one religious festival that has no defined boundaries. So let me wish you all a very merry Christmas, Ho! Ho! Ho!

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