January 4, 2012
As it seems like has happened with everything else in our lives this year, we faced changes during Christmas. And as has happened with all of the other changes, God blessed us through our families and our friends. The love we all share illuminated the meaning of Christmas in my heart.
The financial challenges we have faced this past year forced deep budget cuts in our Christmas spending. And even though I was excited about the special gifts we had picked out for each of our children and our granddaughter, a portion of my heart grieved over the fact that we could not afford to give them more. At one point David, our youngest, was talking about someone listing off all of the things she had received during a family Christmas. According to David, the long list was followed with the comment, “I did not get anything.” And my heart ached because in comparison to that list, David really did not get anything. And I worried that he would feel the same way.
But again, our children showed me the true meaning of Christmas. We celebrated Christmas with our children on Dec. 23rd. As has become our tradition, we had wings at Plucker’s and returned home to open gifts. . They were grateful for every gift they received- but the main enjoyment we had was with each other. We played games. We laughed and all talked at once. We watched Aubrey play with her new baby doll.
The next day my parents, who had driven their travel trailer in the night before, came over and spent Christmas Eve with us. And that evening, my children all granted my Christmas wish (and my mom’s as well) and attended the Christmas Eve church service with us. We all went to our friends’, William and Elizabeth’s after church and had taco soup and visited.
Christmas morning Cody and I woke up and for the first time that I can remember, Santa Clause had not visited our house. I know the meaning of Christmas has very little to do with a visit from the man in red, however, I have always loved the celebration at dawn of finding out exactly what Santa left everyone under the tree and in their stockings…it is magical.
I remember as a little girl, I would wake up my brother and sister and we would sneak into the living room to see all of our goodies. As I grew into a teenager, the job of waking us up was handed down to my little brother, and when he became a teenager, my sister took over the chore. By the time my sister was a teenager, I was married with children- and they woke everyone up. So, really, I cannot remember a single Christmas morning that I have not woken up to the laughter and squeals of delight- from my brother and sister, my own children or my nieces and nephews.
But for the first time when we woke up Christmas morning, there was only me, Cody and David. No stockings full of candy. No gifts laid out under the tree. The absence of these things made me sad, and once again, I worried about how David was taking this change.
We prepared for the arrival of my sister-in-law, nephew and nieces from California, as well as the arrival of my sister and her family who were coming from Lubbock the next day to celebrate Christmas with my parents and the “Cox” side of our family. I was so excited about them all coming to town. It would be the first time we would have had any of them in our new house. Plus it was the first time all of our family (minus my brother, who was stuck working in California) would have been together in over a year. As I changed sheets and cleaned house, I considered how we should be preparing for the return of Christ; not simply celebrating His birth every year. But as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we should be reminded to prepare for His return. As a matter of a fact, we should be anxiously looking forward to it with the same excitement that I felt about the arrival of my family.
For several years, we have celebrated Christmas with our “Temple family”, Bobby and Karen Luckett and their family. This year, for the first time, we were having our Christmas dinner at their house instead of our house. As we now both have grown daughters, we were able to divide up the cooking so it did not all rest on one or two people’s shoulders. (Karen is good at delegating. I am not) So, my kitchen was much quieter, and my stress level much lower.
When we arrived at Karen and Bobby’s house with my parents in tow, I was once again amazed by all of the gifts God has given us. All of our kids, their spouses and our grandchildren were there, laughing and talking and working together to get the meal ready to be served. We ate, played games and reminisced. We also looked forward to future times together as next Christmas we will have two more baby boys to add to the growing list of grandchildren. Our families have a truly remarkable bond that while it is not genetic, I believe it to be spiritual. God has formed this family.
We received the phone call from Michelle, my sister-in-law, letting us know that her arrival at our house was close at hand. We loaded up and all headed back to our house anxious to see them all. As they unpacked and adjusted to the new surroundings, I began to fill plates with Christmas leftovers. It was not long after that our front door opened again, and in walked my sister, brother-in-law and all three of my nieces- a day early! It was a wonderful Christmas day surprise! All of the cousins were together on Christmas day! What a great gift to my parents to have all of their grandchildren under one roof at once.
I remember the first year our oldest son, Jacob, was aware that Santa had visited him. He was almost 18 months old. We were at my parent’s house, where he came toddling down their long hallway into the living room. He spotted the “Little Tike” basketball goal immediately and took off running and yelling, “Baa-it ball! Baa-it ball!” Cody and my lives were forever changed…watching the faces of our children light up was like a drug. We were addicted. We still are.
While Cody and I cut back on the gift giving this year, our children, granddaughter, nieces and nephews, parents and siblings still brought me to tears as their faces continually lit up over spending time together. Their excitement was not dependent on the gifts they received; but only the quality time we were given. I suddenly realized that the main change that occurred this Christmas was actually in my own heart, as Christ slowed me down and quietly showed me the true meaning of Christmas. It was magical.