Christmas 2021

Amidst the noise and happenings, snapshots, a single moment with depths of love and familiarity. I can only imagine that the overwhelming expression of moments are a gift from God. A God pause. This season I saw little hands helping and the innocence of children who love without questioninging.

Extended family and friends gathered to celebrate and continue traditions. My sister-in-law and brother have a party early in December. She is carrying on the tradition of her mother. I can remember going to Nana’s house as a little girl when Harvey and Marie were dating. We would celebrate Christmas and enjoy the good food of Nana. Marie is just like her mom–queen of hospitality and fun! Santa comes and provides gifts for all the children. There is good food and laughter in a beautiful river setting. At one point, my view from the sofa provided a panoramic view of great joy. The energy that flowed in the room from everyone laughing and smiling created another God pause. You’ll notice her sign above her window, “Raise A Hallelujah!” That we did!

I spent early morning hours beside my tree reading all the children’s books we’ve collected through the years telling the story of Christmas. The colors came alive and the message, in its simplicity, comforted me.

There was a moment in which the old rocking chair that Parish refinished in his 20’s for our first born, Victoria, was empty but scooted next to the tree. This chair belonged to my great-grandfather. My dad used to sit in the chair each Christmas. This was his chair when he would visit our side of the house. The memories radiated from the rocking chair as we sat around the kitchen table eating lunch. The mess and the crooked star were perfect.

It was a great morning of opening gifts. With boxes, wrappings, and toys scattered, another Christmas morning had come and gone and, like most Christmas mornings, we all wondered how it could go so quickly. With a tinge of longing and anticipation, we smiled at each other and wrestled with our own journey.

Cousins are now teenagers as we gather and they are getting married and having children of their own. We’ve lost loved ones that would gather with us and smile in remembrance of parents, aunts, and those who are not with us. Life is so different; yet, the love remains the constant thread that continues our family tapestry.

One of my great-nephews, Sawyer, created a candle craft from a mason jar. He wrapped the gift with my help and his Mimi’s swift hiding in the car. He wanted to surprise his mother. His smile can melt your heart.

Over and over again, expressions of love poured out through the days leading up to Christmas. Annual outings with friends, Christmas cards, text messages, and gifts left at your front door were reminders of the reason for the season-love.

After reading a letter from my daughter, her gift to us for Christmas, I said to her, “A letter like this can be written because of all the years and moments we’ve experienced.” It’s amazing to me how you can experience a quick pause or moment; yet, the moment exists because of the years.

I’ve always been fascinated by time. The expression of time moving quickly is as cliché as stories centered around “Well, back in my day……..” to small children who need a reminder of how easy they have it. So much has changed. When I decided in my mind to figure out how to embrace the change and create a new story, love had room to grow. It’s when we get stuck, we lament and become beholding to old patterns and expectations. Christmas morning found me with one child on the steps to come down for her Christmas morning Santa.

I did not have to ask children to wait until Polly and Papa could come and sit and get their coffee. The quietness of loving on my Valentina and seeing her womanhood and laughter was a new way for us this year. My mom sat in Papa’s chair and watched. Her words of love and smiles warming our hearts. Capture this moment and then let it go to become the threads that are woven in our hearts.

I’m not sure what the future holds. I know for certain that time will prevail. People will journey to heaven, babies will be born, and stories will change. I will change. I pray that my eyes will see the rhythm of change as opportunities not only for me to see Him from “glory to glory” but also for those I love to experience the faithfulness of His love.

2 Corinthians 3:18

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

We sang Christmas songs that celebrated the story of His birth and the joy of the season. Again, I looked at the faces of the children and adults and saw great joy! I expressed to my family that the greatest gift we can give Him is our joy–keep singing!

As the days went on, we had this running joke of sweet Spencer Jr finally falling from his new slide. His joy and excitement with his new toy finally had the moment of truth–it’s inevitable! We send the picture to laugh and to remind ourselves to get back up again. Life is too short. We also found it hilarious that his new toy to hold is a screwdriver forever in his hand.

Keep laughing. Keep singing. See the God pauses.

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