Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Different Kind of Christmas

Last Christmas, I knew there would be changes in the coming year. My daughter and granddaughters had moved out of the house we shared to her fianc├ęs' house in Georgia. That resulted in my moving to a smaller condo. I had to sell many of my belongings and Christmas decorations at a moving sale, including my gorgeous, artificial Christmas tree. I let go of things right and left, not realizing the inevitable repercussions that would follow when Christmas time rolled around this year. Little did I realized how steeped I was in holiday traditions, until the thought of decorating a very small space perplexed me to the point that I began dreading Christmas altogether.

The first problems were that without the grandchildren being here and the probability of my not having any company during the holidays, gave way to a deep feeling of sadness which turned into my thinking, what was the point of even decorating at all? Then, having sold my Christmas tree due to lack of storage, I didn't even have a tree to decorate! What Christmas decorations I did have were packed in the back hall closet under boxes of other belongings. Too much effort! I thought, compounding my sadness even more. Meanwhile, I was seeing all my friend’s Christmas decorations spread out in numerous photo spreads on Face book and my sadness started escalating into an all out holiday depression.

I complained about my feelings of negativity to my pastor one day and he wisely confronted me on every excuse I came up with for NOT decorating my small space for Christmas. Finally, he gave a homework assignment: Go home and decorate and send him pictures when I was done. Now I had little excuses that I could come up with to argue with him, so I took his assignment to heart.
I went to a local thrift store and bought a single strand of Christmas multicolored lights, a small table top prelit tree, a Christmas rug for my front door, and some artificial poinsettias and greenery. I felt a little glimmer of excitement as I lugged my treasures home. Then I attacked the hall closet with vigor. No, I didn't unpack all my decorations, but I discovered a beautiful wreath, a tree skirt, stockings and some candles. I lit the candles and realized that I could play Christmas CD's on my DVD player. Wow-imagine that! I hung the stockings from the snack bar, and the strand of lights on my screened in porch. Then I covered my small patio table with the tree skirt and placed the small tree in the center. Viola! It was beginning to look and feel like Christmas. After I wrapped a few packages while listening to Christmas music, I began to feel the doldrums slightly start to lift.

Flash forward to Christmas day. A REALLY different sort of Christmas, if you will. I had the opportunity to spend the night on Christmas Eve at my daughter and new son in law’s beautiful home in Georgia with their four daughters. It was fun being there and being awakened at 5:30 am to unwrap presents! After the chaos had died down and the mess had been cleaned up, I took a short cat nap. Then came the realization that this was going to be a really different Christmas day for me. You see, I have always embraced the tradition of enjoying the proverbial Christmas ham or turkey dinner with ALL the trimmings- sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, dressing, cranberry sauce, rolls, and pecan pie. Of course there would also be TONS of Christmas sugar cookies hand rolled, hand cut and hand frosted. As it turned out, my daughter had envisioned something different; something quite different indeed.

Early afternoon, my son in-law asked me if I wanted to go out to the movies with him, my daughter, and granddaughters. “Sure” I replied, so an hour later we all piled into their SUV. I didn't pay too much attention while riding through the streets of Savannah until we pulled up in front of a Chinese restaurant. Sure enough, we were about to experience our own version of “A Christmas Story.” Remember the classic holiday movie where the family has to eat out on Christmas day because the dog ate their turkey and the only restaurant open was a Chinese Restaurant? Well, sort of the same thing except no turkey and no dog, LOL! After we waddled out of the all you could eat restaurant, we piled back into the van for yet another adventure. This time we headed to the movie theater to go see Night at the Museum 3. Unfortunately, we ended up arriving way over an hour before the movie started, so we ended up seeing Into the Woods, a Disney movies starring Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. My youngest granddaughter Olivia and I loved the musical filled film, and also the popcorn and soda. We arrived back home where everyone scattered off to separate rooms of the house, and I relaxed on the couch where I enjoyed several Christmas movies on Netflix.

I learned several things this Christmas season. 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the grand scheme of things, even though this Christmas lacked some of the more traditional elements of holidays past, it still turned out to be fun and a lot less stressful to boot! 2. Learn to embrace the new and let go of the past. I admit that is still a hard one for me, but I am working on it. And finally #3.  Despite it being a really different kind of Christmas, the most important things were still there; family and good health and those are the things that really matter in the end.
So what about you? Did any of you experience a different kind of Christmas too? After talking to several of my friends I learned that they too had gone to see “Into The Woods” and one of them had even had Chinese on Christmas as well! Who would have thought? LOL!! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Silent Night

It is said that silence is golden. I am sure that what many frazzled moms today would really appreciate this holiday season, would be a few moments of peace and quiet. Pulled & fragmented by the stress of daily life, they long for even a snippet of silence- a precious commodity in today's frantic world.

Perhaps God in his infinite wisdom chose such a tender moment of silence and stillness to bring his precious son into the world. I am sure that the world was busy back then, but not like today's chaotic and hectic standard. Still, love came softly, slipping quietly into the midst of gentle, lowing sheep and cattle.

The midnight sky was lit with the radiance of a bright star, guiding the way to where the new born King lay in an humble manger surrounded by hay. Mary and Joseph were no doubt exhausted from the emotional and stressful journey  to Bethlehem. They had endured judgmental remarks from family and friends, but trusted in the promise that the angel had given Mary. Now, barely sheltered from the elements because there was no room for them any where else, they rested in the glorious arrival of their newborn baby.

And so, it was here; in the still, calm silence of the night the Savior of the world chose to come. It was here, on a silent, holy night that the King of Kings came down to give us the greatest gift of all. Bethlehem bustled with travelers and didn't even know what miraculous event had just transpired.

 And so it is today. Our lives are filled with busyness and festivities. Frantic with everything we need to get done before December 24th. travel plans made, tickets bought, packages to wrap, cookies to bake. Our lives are filled to overflowing that we find no time for a still, silent night. There is no room in the hearts of men and women for the Savior of the world.

But still he comes, and waits, and beckons us to be still and share a moment of silence with Him. Can you hear Him? Will you stop for a moment of silence for the King of Kings? This Christmas, may we all take a quiet moment and journey back to Bethlehem. May we be still and witness a silent night.