I don’t know about you, but the holidays seem to come faster and faster to my front door. I feel like I just put the Christmas tree away and wrapped up all the ornaments last week. But, here I am, a year later, according to the calendar, dragging the boxes in from the garage and untangling fifteen strands of tree lights of which only half will work. I remember as little girl it seemed like it took FOREVER for Christmas to get here. The days would drag on, all three hundred and sixty four of them, until Christmas morning finally arrived. Perfect bliss.
What happed to those days?
Confession: I haven’t even started buying presents. Well, technically I’ve bought presents, or my bank account has been charged for presents. My young adult children ordered what they wanted in the name of gift giving and I paid for it with relief knowing I don’t have to go wandering around stores trying to figure out exactly what they want. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. A little unconventional, but I’m okay with it.
I used to go to bed early the night of Thanksgiving so I could wake up at an ungodly hour to catch the Black Friday sales. I would have my list poised and ready, complete with each and every person I wanted to buy for with an idea of what I would like to gift them written next to their name. I remember those early mornings like they were yesterday. It was always pitch black and usually cold. But it didn’t matter, we had our steaming hot coffee and the excitement we felt at the idea of saving a few bucks was palpable. We were never disappointed. The sales were always substantial and I would have my list half done in one early morning alone.
Those were the good old days.
I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but somehow we lost Thanksgiving to Wal Mart and every other department store who’s decided to open its doors to proudly reveal its product mark downs before we’ve even carved the turkey. The Black Friday I used to know has certainly become a thing of the past. Now, if you want something even close to a good deal, you have to shop all night. Literally. I have friends who wear matching t-shirts and shop from sun down to sun up. They post pictures and totally look like they’re having the time of their lives. The thought of staying up all night for ANYTHING makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. I cannot think of any sale anywhere that would make me do it. So, I’m blaming my lack of enthusiasm for gift buying on the loss of Black Friday. No more list of names neatly printed on yellow legal pad paper with gift ideas beside them, now it’s scribblings on a post it note at best.
I only put out about half of my Christmas decorations this year. The tree is up and the old electric train we bought at the Goodwill fifteen years ago is stretched out around the tree skirt. There are a few “Christmassy” doo dads here and there, and, of course, the stockings. But, other than that, the house doesn’t look like the biggest holiday of the year is only a couple of weeks away. I don’t know what is happening to me, so many of my friends turn their homes into Christmas wonderlands when their kids leave home. It’s like they finally have the time, so they set out to make all of their suppressed Christmas decoration dreams come true. Not me, I’m turning into my mother who, I’m pretty sure, would’ve skipped Christmas all together if we would’ve let her. Oh, she loved celebrating the birth of the Christ child, but she became very weary of putting up and taking down the tree.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t feel “bah humbug” or anything, quite the opposite.
I haven’t felt this joyful about the holiday in several years. I am excited about my college kids coming home, and the Christmas sock exchange I just discovered. I’m ready to bake cookies with my sons and daughter, I’m quite certain we’ll eat almost as many as we make. I’ve been looking for the perfect ginger bread house to decorate and the thought of sipping hot chocolate with marshmallows piled high while gluing gum drops on a cookie roof with vanilla icing sounds perfectly enchanting to me. I want to listen to Michael Buble’ and binge on Hallmark movies. I’m ready to attend the Christmas Eve service at my little country church and sing carols while remembering why we celebrate this special day.
The gifts I want to give and get can’t be wrapped up and put under a tree.
I don’t long for “stuff” like I used to, I would rather have the gift of memories and relationships. I want to laugh until I have tears streaming down my face while sharing stories of Christmas past. I will mostly likely have a good cry as I recall forty four wonderful Christmas’s with my momma. I plan to snap plenty of pictures and stroll through lots brightly colored lights. I almost said I would be willing to play some board games, but, I’m not sure if that’s the truth. (My loyal readers will remember the blog I wrote a while back explaining how I feel about board games.) I do look forward to reading the Christmas story with my family and I want to have plenty of conversations about everything and nothing while everyone is home for the holiday.
The things I long for aren’t “things” at all.
This week I was sitting in my office at work when I suddenly became very emotional. These last years have been tough, sometimes unbearable. But, here I am, through it all enjoying the life the Lord has given me to the best of my ability. I was just so grateful as I looked around at my familiar work space filled with folks I care deeply about nearby. I thought of my husband who has loved me for a long time and of my children who are growing into good people. I smiled as I thought of my dad and how he’s coping with loss and navigating the unchartered waters of a new marriage. I wiped my eyes as I thought of friends who bless my life each day with joy. I thanked the Lord for my warm home, for a car that cranks, clothes to wear and food to eat. He has been SO GOOD.
I even have new Christmas socks.
I plan to celebrate BIG this year. I will celebrate the TIME I have with those I love and the Christ child who came to offer us life eternal.
Not even the best Black Friday sale can compare to that!
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6