It seems like I can hardly wait for the holidays to come. If you know me at all, then you know I begin to get in the holiday spirit on September 1st. I thoroughly enjoy the fall colors, crisp weather, pumpkin patches, pumpkin bars and Thanksgiving. Then, in a wink, it is Christmas time. There is a childlike, magical quality to Christmas, isn't there?
My kids and I were talking that it seems to be harder to get in the Christmas spirit. I don't know if that occurs as we get older or if it is the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, or both. We have six children, so there is some pressure in getting all their presents purchased and wrapped. I love it but can get stressed out about it all at the same time.
I planned to watch the Waltons Homecoming Christmas a couple of times this season. That always seems to help me get more in the spirit. One of the scenes I like the best is when Grandma announces that Olivia will make her applesauce cake for Christmas and that she is down in the basement getting the apples for her cake. Here's a picture of Patricia Neal (Olivia Walton) coming up from the basement with a plant she had found blooming.
Just like Olivia Walton's applesauce cake, there's something about moms and the things they make each year for the holidays that seem to make it special for their families. I did make the things my kids like such as fudge and gooey butter cookies. But still, I didn't seem to get in that Christmas spirit that I was yearning to find.
We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Year Without a Santa Claus. Who doesn't get in the Christmas spirit while watching Linus give his speech about the real meaning of Christmas? I even watched what my husband calls that "spooky" Christmas Box. I always feel Christmas-y when I watch that. But it was as if I had seen all the Christmas shows and listened to all the Christmas music, but still couldn't exactly find that spirit.
On Christmas Eve, we opened gifts, sipped our punch, had a few goodies to munch on and watched It's a Wonderful Life. That was almost reaching the ideal I had in mind.
But I think I know what it is now. I think Christmas brings both joy and a bit of sadness. Sadness because I don't shop for GI Joes, Barbies, and baby strollers anymore. As I looked at my children, I had such joy in seeing them sitting at the table all together. It seems unbelievable to me that they could be in their teens and early twenties. There's a part of me that wants to make time stop or even go back and see them as they were just one more time.
I also tend to look back more to when my brother and I were younger. I remember going to my grandparents house for Christmas Eve. On the way home, we would hear the radio reports of Santa Claus and which state he was now close to. It was fun to experience Christmas through his eyes. Just last year I was back home for a short visit and stood on the stoop of my grandparents' home. The house is no longer there, but if I closed my eyes, I could imagine the living room and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins inside. My dad is no longer with us, but in my mind, I could see him sitting inside that room as well.
But I opened my eyes and there we were. My husband and my children standing on the lot where I have so many memories. My husband picked up a piece of a stone from the foundation and placed it in the van. He understands how sentimental I am. Even though so much has changed, their presence meant so much to me - just to have them there looking with me and listening to me remember.
Granny's house also is no longer standing and she too, has went on to be with the Lord. It seems as if we should walk into her kitchen and see her standing over the stove stirring the fried potatoes and putting the rolls into the oven.
Would I really want to go back in time? Maybe for a few minutes to look on faces that I can no longer see. But my world and my happiness is in the right now. Even though there is some sort of sadness to Christmas, I think it might be in the remembering of Christmases past. What I have to remind myself is that while those times were beautiful, right now is the most beautiful time of all. All of those experiences are still with me in a kind of golden light. But I'm thankful for the right now, too.
If you have little ones at home, I know how stressful holidays can be. There is the shopping, wrapping and then packing away of all the Christmas ornaments, lights, and the miscellaneous odds and ends. But as you pack away the last item and store it on the shelf, stop and listen to the voices in your house. Those voices won't be little forever. Determine within yourself to enjoy every moment this year with those that you love and that love you. Each season has something wonderful to offer. Wintertime is a time to snuggle within the four walls of your home with blankets and pillows and hot chocolate. Say goodbye to the holidays, but let hope and peace reign in your heart as you begin your New Year.
I bless all those reading with the declaration that this will be a year of peace, hope, and joy for each one of you. I bless you, your children, your husband, and your entire family. Even if some of you are going through a dark or lonely time right now, I bless your tomorrow with joy. In Jesus' name - Amen:)
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