Yesterday afternoon I dropped the children off with friends to make gingerbread houses, then I drove to a doctor’s appointment. (I’m seeing a speech pathologist to see if we can get my good vocal cord strengthened.) After thirty minutes of vocal exercises, the doctor could tell I was worn and sent me home, only I sat in the car for a few minutes to nap before driving. I walked into my empty house and cried.
I cried because there is so little I’ve done this year for Christmas. So few decorations. No countdown calendar this year. No stockings hung. No gifts wrapped. No cookies baked. Bri and I did most of our Christmas shopping online so I wouldn’t have to go out and about. It has felt cold and stale and lacking.
But, oh, friends. How wrong I was!
Not that I don’t grieve these losses, for they truly are losses, but there is still so much this season has held. It’s easy for me to get buried under the things I wish I had or did and miss out on all I have! All I’ve been able to do.
Two weeks ago, we went tree hunting and found a little scotch pine that we loved and brought home. When Brian put it in the stand and brought it into our den, we both stared incredulous. It looked nothing like the one we thought we had picked. This was a puny, Charlie Brown tree that put me in tears, then in fits of laughter. Brian was ready to go to a lot and just buy another one for me, but we decided it wouldn’t be a wise use of our money, and besides, our Bella-girl walked in and declared, “Oh, but it’s perfect!” She has always had that gift… to see the beauty in the broken. So we covered our tree with as many lights as we could and decorated it with ornaments that can’t break when Cooper attacks.
That same afternoon I watched as Bri and the kids put up lights on our porch. He brought out his phone and speakers and blared Christmas music and sang at the top of his lungs. I could listen to him sing all day. Bella danced and held lights and Ash ran around moving things and bringing boxes down. And Bear got to go to a water park birthday party with friends, so he missed all the insanity.
After that weekend I did nothing else for Christmas. I haven’t been able to.
And I’m learning that it’s okay.
There is so much more to this.
And yesterday my Brian braved the crowds and shopped for the stocking gifts, and last night as he helped me wrap them up, he told me how hard it was to shop for them. I was expecting him to talk about how hard it was to find stuff. Instead he fussed because he didn’t want to stop getting things for them. I love his huge heart.
Friends brought us supper last night (calzones for Italians–can’t ever go wrong there!), and we put on our new jammies from Brian’s mom (she made us “Team Davi” pajamas). We curled up together, all five of us on the couch, to watch the musical Scrooge which is my favorite rendition of the Christmas Carol (and just might be my favorite Christmas movie of all). Such redemption! I cry every single time.
This morning we stayed in our pjs and played Yahtzee and Bri made Cuban lattes and friends stopped by to bless us with gifts and presence (yes, I meant to spell it that way) and made the very hard of all this so very beautiful.
God willing, tonight we will make our way to our church’s Christmas Eve service, and I declared that even if am curled up on the last row under a blanket, I will be there. I will cry as Brian picks up his trumpet and fills the sanctuary with God’s faithfulness in the form of music, and I will cry as I listen to my dad’s beautiful tenor voice sing beside me, and I will cry as I hug former youth group kid (now so many adults) after former youth group kid, home for the holidays.
God willing, We will spend our Christmas morning quietly as our family of five…er, six… sorry, Cooper. Then we will go to my brother’s home, and I will curl up on the couch under a blanket. I will tease my nephews, and I will sit with my dad, and I will share stories with my brother, and I will eat my mom and sister-in-law’s scrumptious food and I will watch all the festivities with quiet joy… thankful that I am here, that I am with my loves.
And that is all that matters.
If we didn’t have a tree or lights on our porch, if we didn’t have stocking gifts or Christmas ham, if we didn’t have Scrooge or egg nog, if we didn’t have friends baking with our children or bringing us cheer, if we didn’t have a single family tradition, it wouldn’t change the truth of Christmas.
When the fullness of time had come…
Jesus came. Immanuel. God with us. Christmas.
For thirty-three years’ time…
Jesus lived a perfect life. He died on the Cross to pay for my sin.
After three days’ time…
Jesus rose again. He is alive. Death is conquered. Easter.
When His time is come…
He is coming again.
This is what we celebrate–not the family traditions that I hold too tightly, not the sparkling lights or the yummy stew, not the Christmas Eve candle lighting or the gifts under the tree. And the hard of our life right now, this is still the time He has chosen for us. We celebrate Him. But isn’t it such a gift that He allows us to celebrate with all the rest, too?
“I am not alone at all, I thought.
I was never alone at all.
And that, of course, is the message of Christmas.
We are never alone.
Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest,
the world seemingly most indifferent.
For this is still the time God chooses.”
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