Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Home in Illinois
This year Christmas was marked with change. The annual Christmas Eve gathering of our children and grandchildren and my sister and brother-in-law and their children and grandchildren was moved from our daughter’s home to our home at the last minute due to a flu bug that hit their family. Our Christmas morning brunch and family gift opening at our house—a special time we all look forward to every year—was also affected by change. Brian’s oldest sister, who had a mental breakdown soon after high school and has never recovered, spent the day with us. I confess there was some angst about how her presence would affect our traditional gathering. She does not handle change in routine well.
Tears welled as I watched the love and attention flow from our children and grandchildren to her. I was reminded of Christmases past. Years ago we “adopted” an eccentric older woman from our church into our family. Actually, she adopted us. She lacked social graces, was very opinionated, and didn’t hesitate to voice them. She had no family left who communicated with her. But she served in church and loved the Lord. During the 15+ years she spent Christmas with us, we all learned to accept her idiosyncrasies and were enriched by her common sense wisdom and sense of humor. We grew to truly love her.
As I watched the way our family embraced Norine this year, I realized how much I have missed our dear old friend and what she taught us. I’m grateful that God answered my prayer for an opportunity to reflect his love to someone who needs to know him. Norine appeared to feel comfortable, happy . . . and loved. But she blessed my family and me far more; she provided added meaning to our tradition. And I hope she has a lasting sense of Christ’s presence that draws her to him.
In developing your characters, have you ever been surprised by how one unplanned character evolves into a major conduit of change that enriches your story? How about an unsuspecting person in your own life? Anne Lamott addresses this in her book on writing, Bird by Bird. The change or addition can add depth that causes readers to keep turning the pages.