Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's Christmas!!!

I know, I know.  When you read this you are going to ask me about finishing the last blog.  I will. I promise.  But it is Christmas.  It is that wonderful time of year that life just feels a little better, a little brighter and hope springs in the air. Christmas is the time for love, caring, family, friends, expecting, miracles and most of all giving. I am not sure why this season is so endearing to me but it seems that through out my life, for a brief magical moment my Mom was always able to push the cares of our world to the side and celebrate all the things we did have and did not concentrate one moment on what we didn't. She would have Christmas surround us through out the house and season. She had that twinkle in her eye as she shopped. She would sing, and boy did she love the Elvis Christmas album, while we decorated. When we were younger and would visit my family down south, we sang the entire four hour trip.

Decorating was a wonder of red, green, pine and anything Christmas.  Now, she did not go so far as to change the drapes, or put those covers on the toilet seats...but almost everything had something Christmas splashed on it.  She was full of joy in celebrating each other, our little family and most of all our God that had gotten us through another year.We struggled so many years but at Christmas the lines of worry had to go. There was no space for them because this season was the season of miracles and somehow we would make it the best ever.

For most of my life it was just the three of us. Mom, my sister and I. So, we would hang the lights outside wherever they would hang, we would shop until we dropped on Black Friday and we would saturate the tree with presents. And always a real tree.  Some of the best memories I have are of us three girls shopping the Black Friday sales until lunchtime and then having lunch.  My sister was always on a mission to get her kids every single thing on their list.

The most important job on Thanksgiving was not the meal. Mom burned it almost every year. But, the sales papers. My sisters job was to bring all the papers over and get the schedule together. We could not miss any sale. We all stood in the Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us line at 4:00 am usually freezing but mostly laughing, watching all the crazy people and just loving on each other. Our favorite used to be target. They would give you those survival packs with hot chocolate. That was so nice.  But most of all, we were all together. And when Dean came along he was the best.  He was the driver. He picked us up, dropped us off and carried all the packages.  Then, he would go home and sleep and let us finish our girl time together. 

I am not sure how my Mom did it. Our family never celebrated Thanksgiving the weekend before or after...we never celebrated Christmas the weekend before or was just understood that you were at her house for the holidays. And when you got married, it was understood that you would be home for the holidays as well. She did not split time with the inlaws much.  The in-laws got Thanksgiving dinner around Moms schedule and Christmas Day, defiantely not Christmas Eve. If you could make it to both places (which my sister would break her neck and do every year) great, if not, well, good luck with that. We just didn't question, ask or try to manage it any other way. She was our Mom and she only asked one be home for the holidays. Whether you were getting along with each other or not. Some how those were still the days we set aside our differences and tried to stop and remember what we had.  Did it always work out that way, no.  Did we always get along, definately not. But as I am older I realize so much more now of what my mother was trying to get us to see. Today, I treasure my sister. I love her for who she is and I am so proud of her. She has really grown into a beautiful woman. Throughout our younger years though, we definately did not see each other through those rose colored glasses. I doubt we would have even picked them up. We really had a love/hate relationship. I could go into the dysfunctional parents we had that contributed to the way we felt about each other but I am sure enough said. Do you know anyone that does not have a dysfunctional family anymore?

As a mom though, you see who your child is in their heart and you can see the final outcome more so than anyone else. You know that God is protecting, speaking and growing your child and that He has a plan for them for their good as well so your life is not just trusting in your wisdom but also the protecting arms of the Heavenly Father.  As a sibling, we cannot always see those aspects of beauty in our siblings when we are growing  up. We are way too young to see beyond ourselves. I told Olivia the other day that she may have the right answer but her heart behind the answer needed a lot of work. I can just see my Mom right now going, finally, you got it.  Just because one of us was right, did not make it right.  I miss you Mom. I tell Moms of teenagers all the time to try and remember that you know nothing now but at 25 you are the smartest person they will ever know.  I think, at your forties, your Mom must almost be in saint hood for the wisdom you wished you seen in them years earlier. It would have saved a lot of Christmases. 

So this year I started early and  I have climbed into that small storage room, that when you walk into it you have to duck and keep your head slightly bent to pull out the Christmas boxes.  As I pulled them out and dragged them up the stairs to start the decorations I pull out a memory. In every box, in every ornament, in every piece of China lies a story, a memory or a moment. I have looked back over the years and seen where I have been, where Dean and I have walked and where we have been as a family. We have had so many hard, miraculous Christmases through out the years and yet they all have had fun, exciting memories that we treasure. We have made traditions that flow through the house like a warm blanket and hot cocoa on a cold wintery day. We have been able to keep the "wintery cold day" outside as we snuggle and love on each other inside. Our joy is in the wonderment of the decorations, the miracles that God has accomplished in our lives and the love that surrounds this small family of three. I know at Olivia's age I did not have that in my family but now we all do. All three of us and it allows us to open our hearts to so many that do not have it. The joy of the Lord really has been our strength, our stronghold and our ever present Father.

Growing up for me wasn't easy. Really quite hard. There are so many days that I look at my life and know the saving grace of God's Hand in my life. If it were not for God I know who I would have been because I see it all the time in the hopeless eyes of so many. And at Christmas I look for those "eyes". Because for just a brief moment someone will set aside their pride at Christmas, they will set aside their selfishness at Christmas, their hearts seem to be more open and waiting for that miracle because it just might happen for them. I might not have much but I do have a Father in Heaven that can let me know that if a ear needs to listen, an eye needs to see, or a heart needs to know would make a small difference then "Lord Here am I send me."

And for our family. There is not room enough on this blog to tell you the miracles that have played our just this year in our lives. There are so many of  you that have heard, seen and listened to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and helped us carry a very heavy load. As I look in those boxes of memories I see each and every one of you. Your family, your face, your caring and your love and words on a page will never express the heart felt gratitude that I have that you are a part of our lives. Some for a season, some for a lifetime. The song "Thank You" never gets old. So, "thank you for giving to the Lord, I am a life that has been changed!" It may have been a prayer, a card, a call, a visit, a meal, or a financial gift. Each and every one has brought hope to my heart and to Deam and Olivia. We have struggled so much this year with Olivia's health but also her emotional health.  I have been able to use each and every one of you to let her know that though her body is weak God is a big God and see the friends and Christian family He has surrounded us with to help us carry each and every day. So though, she is have been the heart of God to help get stronger without even knowimg it.

If you made it this far....thank you so much for continuing to read. I just could not stop the flow of writing this morning. I truly hope I have not rattled on :)

In His Forever Grip and a Very Merry Christmas
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