Friday, December 31, 2010

White Christmas

Late Christmas morning, snow began to fall on our little home nestled in the forest. This was our view out back which continued all day & throughout the night. Just prior to supper, London went sledding down the hill next door. As he disappeared in the evening light of his last run I feared he would drop over the cliff towards the lake, but he was safe.

Apparently, this was the first "White Christmas" in our area since 1963. What a perfect year to have chosen for our first Christmas at home! The capstone of my day was the following song which commenced just after our prayers as we sat down to enjoy our feast:
"Christmas in Dixie, its snowing in the pines.
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight..."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Traditions

We have always spent Christmas with extended family... scrambling to make the 530 mile trip north, then rushing from one gathering to the next. It was with a surprising sense of calm that I proposed our staying home this year & my husband readily acquiesced. My son was eager to stay home to enjoy his gifts Christmas Day so long as Santa would be able to find him.
I wondered over my impulsive declaration yet it felt right & good. The matriarchs of my family had modelled Christmas traditions for me over a lifetime & I soon realized the brunt of holiday tradition now fell on me... it was my turn to lead the way & pass them along. For the first time in my son's life, he didn't have to pack his gifts away once they were opened. We stretched our gift opening over the course of the day, frequently pausing for him to play. For the first time in over a decade, the Christ candle shone brightly on our advent wreath.

I wanted to show my son, "the other side of Christmas" & planned an outing to distribute warm apparel to people living on the streets. Once assured I planned to bake lasagna for our holiday meal, my brother delivered us a turkey before making his trek to MD. In his usual, generous manner he purchased the 3 of us an 18.6 pound bird! It hadn't completely thawed & took hours to long that it kept us from our outting. We couldn't go help the homeless because we had too much food! There will be other times, but the irony was not lost on me. As I worked, preparing favorite dishes from all sides of the family I felt keenly in tune with the women who had prepared these same dishes before me. It was a lovely, quiet & slow-paced day, full of cozy warmth & laughter. One in which I confidently accepted the Torch of family traditions & took my place among the women of our family.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What If She'd Seen Jesus In My Yard?

Shortly before Christmas, I was surprised to find myself home alone. My mind raced with possibilities for this rare & unexpected time. Not long after the phone rang, I realized this was no accident. I spent hours on the phone with a woman intent on taking her own life. Unable to gather any family contacts, I called EMS when we were briefly disconnected. With contact re-established, I remained on the phone with her until help arrived.
To my delight she called the next evening for directions to our Bible study, but my hopes dwindled as the evening came & went without her. Over a week passed before I learned what happened that night. On her way here, a secular holiday display brought up pain & shame from her youth. She returned to her house to swallow the bottle of pills that would end her life. Thankfully she survived & the Lord worked on me through my rage, enabling me to see the log in my own eye. While the neighbors "never put Christ in Christmas," my garden remained yet unadorned as I hadn't "felt ready" for the holidays. That near-fateful evening, she had been in plain sight of the empty space where my nativity should have been set. Someone I barely knew had come seeking the Lord, but found Him not. Once again, the finger I point toward others returns to me. My Saviour (& the woman) forgive me, yet I am reminded of the saying, "one never knows who is watching".

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Baby Jesus

My husband recently observed, "It is easier for most people to accept the babe in the manger than the adult Saviour who calls us into accountability." The baby Jesus makes no demands on us. He simply seeks our thankfulness & our adoration, beckoning us into joy.
The other evening, my holiday partying was stopped dead in it's tracks when I came face-to-face with a newborn. I was powerless to do or say anything as I fell under the spell of this tiny, new life. The baby Jesus of Christmas calls us into worship & praise~ yet, how much time do we set aside in the holiday rush to sit adoringly at His side to gape in awe & wonder?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tiny Town

Once a year the adjoining yards of a local, extended family are transformed into an amazing world of lights, buildings, & all things Christmas. Houses, hutches & cases are brimming with toys spanning generations. The family matriarch hands out hot chocolate or coffee in an Early-Americana-style cottage filled with Wizard of Oz, Elvis, Beatles & Cupie doll collectibles.

Some cases are filled with trains while others are jammed with McDonald's toys, Disney displays, Barbies, miniature cars & countless other themes. Children play in some while others are simply to be peered into.

Santa in his sleigh welcomes visitors as they cross the bridge & pass by the wishing-well. So much of this season lacks any visual reminders of our Saviour & the celebration of His coming. In Tiny Town I can always count on the abundant presence of the nativity, as well as the empty cross of our risen Lord.

An uncle or brother or son watches over a bonfire so large it must be tended by forklift. Our advent season begins with an evening here for my son's birthday & he is always allowed to throw firecrackers into the pit.

We bring along marshmallows or hotdogs to share as we visit with locals who regale us with folklore, tales of the year's hunts, & an abundance of humor. It is the first of many, annual visits to this magical place just up the road from our home.