Christmas Eve Hope

So tomorrow is Christmas. Another year gone. Seems hard to believe. This year has had many “first without Mama” occasions but tomorrow is the biggest. I never had a Christmas morning without her before. Or a Christmas Eve. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it. Was it really only 12 months ago that I gave her the beautiful red coat she never wore? I still can’t look at it without a rush of emotion to blur my vision. Tomorrow I will unwrap presents “From Daddy” only and not from both. This is hard – too hard for me to handle on my own.

At the same time, there is a beauty to this holiday that I never saw before. If it weren’t for Christmas and the birth of a Saviour King, there would be no hope of heaven and no promise of seeing my mother again. Some may argue the validity of December 25th as the birthday of our King, but it makes no difference to me. The actual date is not the point. The point is the promise of salvation that Jesus brought to that stable so many years ago. This is the hope I cling to when the pain is more than I can bear. This is the hope of Christmas Eve.

And the memories of many beautiful Christmases and Christmas Eves spent with my mother make this holiday and season so incredibly special. Memories of stockings hung on the mantel. Of presents so beautifully wrapped and tied with ribbons. Of Christmas Eve hot chocolate and cookies. Of shaking the various packages and trying to guess their contents. Of tumbling out of bed at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning. Of having “snowball” fights with crumpled-up wrapping paper. Of retiring to a quiet corner with one of my new books and my box of animal crackers to while away the afternoon.

So let the theologians wrangle over the petty details of Christmas. I will continue to hold onto the hope of Christmas Eve and the beauty of Christmas Day, keeping both my mother and my Saviour alive in my heart.

Thanksgiving – Food and Family

The holiday season is upon us again. I love this time of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas and the spirit of joy and love that comes with them. It’s beautiful how we all smile a little more, give a little more, and are a little more grateful for the people in our lives. The greatest gift of all is family. We may take them for granted the rest of the year, but right now, if we don’t get caught up in the commercialism of it all, family feels closer than ever.

Like most every other family in America, we ate too much food and watched TV and napped off the turkey. I spent the entire morning in the kitchen. Daddy and I did the cooking. He did the turkey and mashed potatoes, I did the casseroles and gravy and biscuits and pies. I recruited a couple different helpers over the course of the cooking process of course. It was a lot of fun. I guess it’s a good thing I love to cook. As a bonus, I got out of the clean-up. So, win-win.

This Thanksgiving was a tough one for me and my family; I know Christmas will be too. Holidays are always rough after a death. I’d give my right arm to have Mama here with us to celebrate the season. But at the same time, this Thanksgiving was also very special. Her loss made us all that much more grateful that we still have each other and that we’re still together. The thing I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving is that this past year did not tear our family apart. As it very well could have. We have needed each other more than we ever did before. And we are closer than we have ever been. I know Mama is watching and I know she is happy.

As we move from Thanksgiving towards Christmas, let’s all try to hold on to that feeling of gratitude that Thanksgiving brings. Because if we let it, Christmas will sweep us up in its frenzy of shopping and decorating and hosting parties. And while this is fantastic, it’s not really the point of it all. Let’s not forget about Baby Jesus and how grateful we are that he was born in that stable so many years ago. And let’s remember to show our loved ones how much we care – they may not be here next Christmas.