As the dust settles on the craziness of the year’s long move…as the boxes disappear from every room in the house… thoughts of my favorite time of the year is knocking on my heart’s door. The sense of holiday urgency for turkey dinner to decking our new walls with boughs of holly for the season nibbles at my core.
However, I confess to new anxieties.
I don’t know if the fear of opening another box to untangle strings of lights is overwhelming my thoughts—like, “where do I want to put this and that” and “I will have to pack it all back up and put them away again.”
Or if it’s the sting in my heart of not being able to share them with our children, grandchildren, family, and friends causes me to pull away from filling our home with red and green.
Believe me, decorating for Christmas is a joy...no, a necessity to my soul to celebrate the birth of the Savior. I love to decorate the tree with shiny bulbs and sparkling lights and silver tinsel. The nativity scene, a gift from my mother and hand painted with love by my sister-in-law, always sits in a place of honor.
Since childhood, music has played a huge part in my life, especially Christmas music. From the days of singing Silent Night in Sunday school programs and later in midnight cantatas. In more recent years it’s been singing, dancing, costume changing, and bell-ringing. The years of watching my sons wear oversized bathrobes to become shepherds and white sheets with garland halos as angels singing Christmas carols have come and gone.
From Bing Crosby and Doris Day on vinyl, to the Statler Brothers on a worn out cassette, to Curtis Steven Chapman and Amy Grant on CD…music fills my space as Christmas letters and cards are written, stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and dreams of a white Christmas dance in my head.
Nevertheless, my stomach churns this year at the thought of putting even one CD in the player, draping silver strands on the tree, placing baby Jesus in the stable, or addressing a single envelope.
I confess that I don’t quite know how to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year this year. So, with tear filled eyes, I let memories of adventurous holidays give me strength to undo the knots in my stomach.
- Memories of three Thanksgivings and Christmas’ in Alaska—as newlyweds, as new parents, as a military family. With friends in similar situations, we discovered a new kind of family and new celebration traditions—from trying to cook our meal in a mountain cabin where the electricity wouldn’t work but the frozen lake provided plenty of fun; or when we went from apartment to apartment for a progress Thanksgiving dinner.
- Memories of singing “I’ll be Home for Christmas” into a cassette recorder for my family back home—that made my mother cry
- Memories of many 300-mile trips with our sons and usually a dog —where ice, snow, fog slowed us down but rarely stopped us—to spend at least one of the two holidays with our family back home
- Thoughts of the first of thanksgiving—where the Pilgrims dined with their new family in a new land to celebrate survival and bountiful blessings, which I’m sure was filled with both anxiety and glee—reminds me to stay strong
- Thinking of the long rugged journey the couple from Nazareth traveled to a Bethlehem inn, which I’m sure brought tears for fear and joy, lifts my spirits and push back the worries
So, I press on with travel plans for a long Thanksgiving drive; weather permitting, it will be over the mountains and across the miles to be with our families back home. Hotel and Flight reservations are secured for Christmas to be with our children and grandchildren—I’m praying we don’t meet Santa on the way as one of those stranded traveler statistics.
As for decorating our new house...I'll let you know in the coming weeks.
New memories with new adventurers await...
So I will...
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving
|Capitol City Christian Church, "The Christmas Letter," 2013|
and His courts with praise…
“Give thanks to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
and His faithfulness to all generations.”
Psalm 100:4-5 nasb