2014 is almost behind as we stretch toward the New Year sneaking up on us. Did the year fly by? How about Christmas? Was it hustle and bustle, busy or burdened? Did it drag by or is it over too quickly for your taste? It’s about time to take down the trimmings and store them away. Finish off the goodies and leftovers and hide the scales until Valentine’s Day I say. Personally, I can do without the tinsel, but I love being reminded of Baby Jesus in the Manger and all the old hymns we bring out and sing with gusto. How wonderful to praise God!
But I am going to take a little trip down memory lane and ask you to ride along. Christmases past before our son died are naturally happier ones. No one wants a family gathering with a beloved member missing. So I have traveled back to times when it was “over the hills and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go” with kids and presents and treacherous roads because, of course, it had to be a white Christmas to be perfect.
All of us would arrive from near and far, crashing the quiet of our parents’ farmhouse and turning it into a zoo for a few days of festivities, and of course they loved every minute of it. There would be hugs and smiles and squeals of delight from the kids as they all saw each other again. The men would catch up on life while generations of women would roll up their sleeves and roll out pie dough and cinnamon rolls and cookies for decorating. We’d bake and get in each other’s way, compare recipes and other tidbits while sampling and laughing and brushing away flour or tears from belly laughter. I close my eyes and I can see it all and hear the laughter. I smell cinnamon and cloves and hot apple cider. Can you? If not, don’t blame the story; blame the writer. My memories are perfect.
The kids were never bored. There were snowball fights and snow angels. Arm wrestling and chasing. There was ping pong in the basement ~ which was mostly storage, so if your ping pong ball bounced out of bounds ~ good luck finding it. We always did. But it made for a longer game and much patience, but nobody seemed to mind.
The presents had arrived from near and far too and were piled under the tree. They positively dazzled and begged to be opened. It wasn’t long before toys were in the hands of eager children and fancy wrappings were in the trash. No matter. Just being together enjoying each other for the time we had, was worth it all. Too soon we’d be packing up, sharing hugs and kisses goodbye, and wiping away tears of sadness knowing we’d likely have to wait a year before gathering again.
There is no gathering place like that one. Parents have gone to their rest. Our son has gone to his rest. The farm is home to another family now. As our lives change over time, we cannot go back and relive. We can only go forward . . . and make new memories with family gatherings in new places and as often as possible throughout the year. The ones we love are precious. And time slips away.
Whether it is Christmas or not, let’s determine to stay in contact with the ones we love and tell them often how very much they mean to us. The gifts we purchase, wrap, unwrap and exclaim over are rarely remembered as much as the time we spend sharing our joy.
Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. Romans 12:10, NCV