I sit here among bins of Christmas decorations that need to be hung, trying to remember where I placed everything last year. I really, really meant to take pictures so I would have a visual reminder (as so thoughtfully suggested by my then 5-year-old), but in the chaos of the holiday season, I simply forgot.
Unfortunately, last year’s Christmas wasn’t one of our best. Things were extremely tight for us financially, so the holiday stress and chaos levels were even higher than usual. My work plate was barely manageable, and sleep was more of a luxury than a necessity. Pink eye invaded our house yet again, and I ended up getting the flu two days before Christmas Eve. And, of course, I was hosting. Let’s just say a 103 fever and a house full of people made survival more of a goal than Christmas cheer.
So, yes, I remember that last year was the year we had to really cut back. It was the year we had to make a few homemade gifts. It was the 2nd annual year of pink eye (the gift that keeps giving), and the year I got the flu.
But, as it turns out, it was also the last Christmas I would spend with my father-in-law.
It was the last year my husband would give his father a Christmas kiss on his “cuppie.” The last year my children would hear their papa pray a Christmas blessing over all of us. The last year we would all see his mischievous smile as he instigated a wrapping paper war in the middle of the family room.
Oh, if we only knew.
A lot of people talk about simplifying the holidays—about how we need to take the time to sit back and savor the season. I have always loved those messages, and I have always tried to take them to heart. But this year, as I reflect on how quickly and drastically life can change, I vow to make more of an effort to soak in the memories. To not focus on the circumstances, but to focus on the people God has placed in my life.
Thanks to God’s abundant grace, I will tell you that our circumstances are different this year. We are in a better place financially. My job is much more manageable (and enjoyable). And so far—dare I write it—we have been pretty healthy.
I admit that in many ways, life is a little less stressful this year. But there is also a gaping hole that reminds me that life, regardless of the circumstances, is short. Too short to forget what’s really important—who is really important. Oh how I wish I had lived that truth last year.
I want to make this Christmas the year I simply enjoyed. The year I gave the priceless gift of grace to everyone God has placed in my life. The year I hugged more and laughed first and didn’t focus on the tangled mess of stuff I often let creep into the Christmas season. I want, more than anything, for this to be the year I focused on the manger, giving thanks and praise to a God who sent His son so that we could rest in the knowledge that we will celebrate Christmas with my father-in-law again—for all of eternity.
Of course, there will still be decorations and gifts, a few work deadlines, and now that I’ve surely jinxed myself, there may even be some sickness. But this year, the focus will not be on any of those things…or on any thing at all. It will be on my family and my Savior.
I just hope I don’t need a picture to remember to do the same next year.
|Dad, Christmas 2012|
How will you make this a Christmas to remember?