When I think about what Christmas looks like to me, in fact the whole holiday season, it would not be complete unless all the enduring elements which I’ve come to expect are included in the picture.
The adorning of the house with all the colors and symbols of Christmas time, digging through the stored-away bins of decorations like a character straight out of Whoville. Somehow, every year it’s still a fond exercise in tradition.
Then there are Christmas cookies and all kinds of baked deliciousness in which we indulge, forcing back those pesky feelings of guilt and shame. After all, it is Christmas, and our New Year resolutions haven’t begun yet.
So we bake the cookies, we make the candy and fudge, we go to those holiday parties and enjoy this special once-a-year celebration!
Lastly, I love to see at least a little bit of snow during the Christmas season. It just feels right! I hang my ‘Let it Snow’ sign in hopes that it will come, at least for Christmas eve.
Aside from these, there are the things which you can’t buy, or bake. They are the gifts which we hold in our hearts, and the presence of those we love and cherish, when we lay aside the challenges in our relationships and choose peace and goodwill at least for now.
The most precious of those unseen gifts are the memories of the ones we miss, especially during this time of the year. I understand all too well that the memories are not all good, some are painful and sad and irreparable, and we work through that the best we can, but still…. they are missed.
(This is my Dad ‘aka Santa’, several years before he took his journey to heaven)
For some of my family, this will be a first. A first Christmas without a brother, an uncle, a friend. I have my list, as I’m sure you do, too.
The decorations, the cookies, and the snow… of course all of those things are momentary.
“And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling. How could it be so? It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more?” ~ Dr. Seuss
Truly, Christmas is a matter of the heart…. a heart for family… a heart for goodwill……. the heart of a Savior, full of love for mankind, the brilliant star which outshines all the other details of my perfectly painted picture of Christmas.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8
…the best gift of all!
(Photos by Robin Abrams-A Song In My Heart)