Here we are, rushing around, finishing the last minute shopping, wrapping presents, planning menus for the Christmas feasts, listening to carols, making “Merry Christmas” calls, laughing, playing with the children, and watching our favorite Christmas movies. Life is busy, rushed, and stressed as “the big day” nears. Christmas Day is almost here, with all the commercialism and hype, all the worrying about gifts, baking, and preparation.
Hillary and her children, Morgan and Gracelyn have been here since Friday. Our son-in-law, Jeff arrived today. Emily and Ella live here so they have been a part of the busyness of the season all fall. I sit at the computer tonight thinking about all I have to do tomorrow and how behind I am and suddenly I stop…why do we worry so? Does it make any difference if all the gifts aren’t bought or wrapped? Who cares if we don’t bake a ton of Christmas cookies…or if the house isn’t perfect and clean?
Today I ran into several friends as I rushed around shopping for groceries and the last minute gifts. We stopped and gave out hugs or called out a “Merry Christmas”! I joked with a friend as we rushed out the door to our families about her carrying her own groceries out instead of asking for help (and she had a loaded cart!). I called several friends to tell them that I am grateful for them and to wish them and their families “Merry Christmas”. The hugs and the comments I received were filled with love and compassion. I see it in their eyes and feel it in their hugs. I hear it in their voices…they are saying that they are with me, with our family, as we face another Christmas holiday without Paul. Some come right out and say it…”I am thinking about you all as you celebrate without Paul”. “I am praying for you.” Some avoid us or can’t call because they don’t know what to say. Most try hard to understand that the hole in our hearts will never heal, but we will find the grace in this new life we now live. We will celebrate Christmas!
December 24th…Christmas Eve
I am grateful for the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Memories of Christmases past linger; and I remember when our children were young and innocent and life seemed carefree. The memories return and renew my spirit. Time seems to repeat itself and here we are with little ones in our lives again. I marvel at the looks of wonder and amazement when they see Santa or talk about baby Jesus. Our home is warm and comfortable, Christmas carols are playing as we wrap gifts and scurry around putting the finishing touches on Christmas brunch so tomorrow morning it will all be ready to pop in the oven. We go to the family service at church where we sing, pray, and listen to the children’s choir perform. My heart is full, but sad as I remember Paul’s singing as a little boy in the children’s choir. We just saw online that Santa is getting close to the United States, so we write our last notes to Santa, place chocolate chip cookies and carrots for the reindeer on a plate for his snack, and then it is off to bed for the little ones! This year we have Hillary, Jeff, and Emily all here wrapping and putting out the gifts for Christmas morning. It is such a pleasure seeing them as parents preparing for their children’s Christmas. How I wish Paul was here with us to join in the fun.
December 25th…Christmas Day 2008
The weather is mild, spirits are high…gifts are scattered around the family room, and smiles abound. We have finished the “great opening” and now we sit drinking coffee and waiting for the last gifts, Paul’s stocking and the red envelope on the Christmas tree. Hillary, Jeff, and Emily vowed to take care of Paul’s stocking each year. This year there are 3 silver ornaments and the traditional orange in the toe. The ornaments are words: Peace, Believe, and Grace. They are accompanied by three messages from the family. I think I will place them in a shadow box to share with others…messages of hope and love.
Chuck and I have chosen to give a donation to the Southeastern Virginia Food Bank in Paul’s memory. He volunteered there with the Boy Scouts, and we worked there as a family on September 20th this year to honor Paul on the anniversary of the day he died. The food bank is hurting for donations, so we will donate to honor our son. Perhaps we can do a little something to help a family who is struggling and needs food to put on their table.
As we celebrate this Christmas, my heart goes out to other families who have lost children. I pray that these families may find the same grace and hope in their lives that we have. My heart breaks for all of us who miss our sons and daughters and for whom life will never be the same. My prayer is that we will find the spirit of Christmas in our hearts and that God will bless us and our families with the miracle of Christ’s birth.
I believe more than ever that the reason for the season truly is Jesus Christ and the miracle of His birth. It sounds so simple, but the message is profound. God sent this tiny baby who was born over 2000 years ago to fulfill prophecy, to save us from our sins, and to give us hope in life eternal. Now that is THE reason to celebrate Christmas! Jesus truly is the best Christmas gift, a gift chosen and purchased by God for us, wrapped up in swaddling clothes, and placed in the manger with two young parents chosen to love and raise him. This is truly the best gift, better than any we could buy at a store, order online, or make ourselves! Jesus is the gift of all gifts! One of Paul’s friends told me on the first Christmas without him, “We know that because God sent His son Jesus to earth, we will see Paul again.” Words of hope as we celebrate the Christmas season…Merry Christmas to all of you.