This is, without a doubt, my very favorite time of year. I cued my pandora radio to Christmas music on November 1. I have furiously researched recipes, decorating ideas, and creative ways to set a table. I've made out my Christmas shopping list and picked up a few new items to decorate the house. I think the best part of the holiday season is the time we get to spend with family. I cherish every minute, especially as I get older.
Last weekend, I got to spend some time with my family in North Carolina. I hoped someone would mention decorating the Christmas tree while I was home, but I wasn't going to ask in fear of looking like an idiot. I shouldn't care, my family already knows I am over-the-top ridiculous with stuff like this. You can imagine my excitement when my dad casually asked if we should put the tree up while I was home. Ecstatic! You see, we have this super cool tradition. We all load up and head to the Hallmark store. We painstakingly analyze every ornament in the store, try to talk each other into our favorites, and have a ball pushing all of the buttons on all of the musical ornaments and making that obnoxious dancing-whatever sing loudly throughout the store. I'm hoping you never get too old to have this yearly excursion, because it's just so much fun.
So, ornaments in hand, we head across the parking lot to Lowe's to buy a new tree. Thankfully, all of our Christmas items were stored in the detached garage... however, the 10 foot tree isn't going to fit in the tiny little rental house. :)
I left mom and dad's house on September 22, just six days after the fire. I've seen a picture or two of the demo/construction process... but I still wasn't prepared for the mess. There is no house. Of course, rationally, I knew it needed to be torn down. I knew there would be tractors and equipment and huge mess... but I wasn't prepared. I stood in the driveway just staring... feeling the gravity of the situation as if for the first time.I couldn't keep back the tears. I stood there in the driveway, crying in my mama's arms. Actually, we were all crying. The funny thing about grief is that it's a process. Just when you think you've mastered it and are moving on, these strange emotions come back. I wouldn't wish this hurt on my worst enemy. People say over and over again, "they're just things, they can be replaced." I wonder if those people have ever lost everything. If they've ever stood in front of the dirt pile that used to be their home, Christmas ornaments in hand, and ached for home. For that cozy bed fitted with the same worn flannel snowflake sheets that come out every winter, for worn-out old slippers in the closet, the decorations in all of their usual places and stockings hung on the mantle.
We love the Christmas album from Alabama. As we decorated the new tree in the rental house, the words of their song "Christmas Memories" came to my mind.
"Though it all looks the same so much as changed from the way it used to be
Christmas memories of happy years gone by
They come back to me and keep me warm inside
Still those Christmas memories make me cry."
This year we'll wake up on Christmas morning in house that isn't ours, create a beautiful table setting on a table that isn't ours, and eat Christmas dinner on plates that aren't ours. But do you know what's great? The memories are ours, the time together is ours, the love is ours. What a blessing that those most precious of things can't be taken away.
Maybe your holiday season will be less than ideal too. Maybe you're lonely, maybe you're not home, maybe, and most tragically, maybe you've forgotten why we celebrate this season to begin with. For the Pruitt's this year, and every year to come I pray, it's not about the presents and the stuff, it's about togetherness. It's rejoicing in the fact that our Savior was born so we may have life and have it to the fullest.
I challenge you to make some extra-special memories this Christmas season. Eat off the special china, take those fancy nutcrackers out of the box so they kids can play with them, bake too many cookies, stay up too late, watch Home Alone for the one millionth time.
I am reminded each day that you can't take it with you. I hope this Christmas won't be so much about accumulating stuff (though presents are fun!) but about sharing in the joy of Jesus' birth with your family and friends.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.