Happy December! The Christmas season has finally rolled around. How do you feel about the season? Are you one of those who drag your decorations out and start hanging the holly as soon as you take the last bite of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day? Are you day dreaming about where you want to hang your Christmas cards this year while you are surrounded by family while washing the dishes from your big family meal on Thanksgiving? How about Black Friday? Have you written up your shopping list and mapped out your plan for fighting the crowd on the biggest shopping day of the year? Between your favorite college football rivalry games on Saturday is your family getting your Christmas tree out, putting it up and decorating it? Does Sunday bring the Christmas card list, cards, stamps and your address book? If you say yes to any of those questions then I’d say you are well on your way to the Christmas Season train.
In Christmas’ past I have to say I’ve never really been one to fully grasp the full effect of the Christmas season. I’d generally hear the train from a distance but would never be interested in raising my head to see where it was or how far away it was from me. On occasion I would send Christmas cards the week after Thanksgiving. But most of the rest that had to do with Christmas didn’t get done until the 20th – give or take a day or two. I was never really into the whole “whoop ti do” of it all”. Even after having children we would do just enough for the kids. We would go to special parties or events in the community that they would enjoy. We would go look at the lights around the area. Just generally things that would make them smile. When we would put up the tree we’d take pictures galore. We have wonderful memories of pictures with Santa. My husband is a great amateur photographer. Basically Christmas was for the kids. When Christmas Eve would come around we would focus on the TRUE meaning of Christmas and read Luke 2 and talk about the birth of Christ. Christmas Eve was all about Christ and his gift to us. Christmas morning was about our family. We exchanged gifts and opened our stockings. Usually the day after Christmas I took the tree down and put the ornaments away and it was back to normal. As the kids got older I changed, they weren’t interested in what we did to make it about them. As we struggled to figure out how to change with them our whole lives changed.
In 2009, five Christmases ago, my father became very ill. I had foot surgery the first week of December so I wasn’t supposed to walk for 4-6 weeks. We usually traveled quite a bit for the actual holiday. We have 3 families plus our own to visit. My husband’s parents are divorced and remarried and both families live in Florida. My parents live in Ohio. And we live in TN. So, one year we would go to Florida. One year we would go to Ohio. One year we would stay home. If any of them want to come to us that year (or any year) that is fine. In 2009 we were planning to stay home because of my surgery. At some point around Christmas, not sure of the date, my father became ill and was taken to the hospital. He had been having problems breathing for a number of months. I am an only child and was determined to get to Ohio without a doubt. So the four of us packed our bags, I propped my foot on the dashboard and Ron drove us to Ohio. We spent an extended period of time in Ohio. I was in a wheelchair and everyone else took turns pushing me from the house to the hospital.
For the next five years we spent multiple times making scheduled and unscheduled trips to Ohio as my dad fought Laryngeal Cancer. I honestly don’t even remember much if any of those Christmases. Many of those trips I remember telling my kids to “take funeral clothes” because I just never knew if this unscheduled trip in the middle of the night might be the last one or not. Then last year I joined him in the cancer struggle as I was also fighting cancer. I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in April 2013. I was declared cancer free in October 2013. My dad, who had lived without his voice box for the last few years, was never cancer free until he died December 26, 2013. I was there for Christmas with he and Mom. He died in the house less than a minute after he walked by Mom and I and smiled a Good Morning to us. When he went back to his bathroom after that he bled out and past on to Walk the Streets of Gold and Bow to His Heavenly Father.
So this Christmas I feel a lightness like I don’t remember feeling. I have decorated like I really never have! I feel the joy of the holiday! Every ornament feels different! Each decoration brings sweet memories! I feel like the train has pulled up to my door and has stopped and is waiting for me and my Christmas Joy to come aboard! I hope that each of you that read this are able to find one simple positive thing in your life so that you can feel the presence of the Father and feel His joy in your life! I’ve overcome so much and I can feel Him lifting me out of all of it. I pray that you will lift your arms up so He will lift you out of your pain whatever that will be. Hang your ornaments on the tree. Put your angel on the top and hear the angel choir singing. If you listen close you can probably hear my dad singing. He’ll be the loudest tenor of them all! Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!