I think that the first Christmas that I really remember was the one when I was in first grade. My youngest brother was born on the 21st. .and to this DAY, I remember vividly my big, tall dad walking into my primary school all dressed in his cow-feedin' coveralls. We were all lined up getting ready to go to lunch and so EVERYONE was there. He announced to me that I had a new baby brother. .and I wanted to crawl under a desk. I was mortified. .and without further adue, he walked back out the door. A few days later as we all came home with my mom and new brother, we discovered that Santa had come. .in the MIDDLE of the DAY!! I was totally amazed. .apparently to this day still.
I don't really remember any specific presents that I ever got, other than clothes I got to choose when I got to high school. But I do remember the fun that we had making peppernuts and listening to Perry Como's White Christmas album in that big huge record playing box in the living room. My siblings and I had actions for each of the 12 days of Christmas. .and I can still see Brendan milking the cow as he squatted and danced!! My mother has NOOOO recollections of this record album. .we discovered this a few years ago when we were reminiscing. .but I can totally get how the stress of 4 young, noisy kids could make a person forget things like this. .I'm sure that we were so wild that she has amnesia out of necessity!
I also remember as a senior in high school, my best girl friend and our 2 favorite guys from our church youth group were in charge of cutting down a Christmas tree to decorate the activity hall. We piled into Tim's pickup and went out to a farm pasture and found one that was perfect. We all thought so. When we got it back to the hall, we found it to be at least 12 feet tall (it was getting dark as we loaded the thing onto the pickup). It wouldn't stand up in the holder. .so the guys got a ladder and some baling wire and wired the sucker up to the rafters of the building. .It looked great!! We all thought so :-)
I remember Jeremy and I trying to get home to MY home in a snowstorm the first Christmas after we were married.
I remember my friend Kayla and I getting together to bake my mom's famous sugar cookie recipe, and breaking the mixer because the dough was so thick. .and how we had 6 dozen cookies spread out on my tiny kitchen table and we thought we had SOOOO many cookies!!
I remember Jeremy and I developing carpal tunnel in our wrists and breaking the electric knife we got as a wedding gift in an attempt to cut the homemade caramels I cooked up.
I remember that first Christmas with a one year old who was more excited about the papers then the present inside.
I remember each Christmas that we added a new little body around our tree!!
I remember going to church on Christmas eve, midnight masses, and taking my own kids to Christmas eve services. .always driving home in the crisp, starry darkness. .wondering about the night of Jesus' birth, gazing at the stars and trying to imagine that one bright star that led the way to that tiny little stable.
But mostly, I remember feelings of love. Love toward family. .love toward friends. .love toward people that I didn't even know. There is something so magical to me about that Christmas spirit. .I wish I could capture it in a vessel to pull out through the rest of the year. I know that not every one has good memories like mine. .and that for some. .Christmas is a time of complete desolation, disdain, disappointment, and dispair. .and my heart breaks for them. I encourage you to reach out to someone this week. .and show them that Christmas spirit of love. Reach for that really grouchy co-worker. .the neighbor down the way that lives alone or has no family. .or someone that seems completely un-loveable or totally miserable in their life. .
1 John 4:9-12
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
If you have time TODAY. .I encourage you to read the rest of the passage in 1 John 4. .I hope it inspires us all to spend the next few days looking beyond our lives "in the box" and reaching out for those in our paths that need an extra dose of LOVE. I assure you that I was convicted as I read those words on the page!
Blessings to all this final countdown to the birthday of our King!