During this festive time of year, I become nostalgic. I sit and stare at our Christmas tree , and I have flashbacks of earlier trees. I have always recreated the tree every year. When we were first married, I made an elegant gold tree. When the boys were small, I trimmed the tree with safe red and white peppermint ornaments and candy canes with cute red bows. Then, I began my angel collection and covered the tree with angels....just angels. The boys loved buying me a new angel for Christmas because I would unwrap it and add it to the tree immediately. We would declare it to be the fairest of all angels.
I remember the tree that caused all the guys in my family as well as my neighbor Tom to gasp. What had I done? I covered the tree with peacock feathers and turquoise and green balls. They just could not comprehend a peacock tree and still to this day tease me about my creation.
Of course, no two mantels have ever been the same. Each year the theme of the Christ child is the same , but I address it differently on the mantel. Again, my three guys could not understand why I went to such pains and hours to create a new mantel each year. The fun is in the creating for me. Creating new slants on the same theme makes my season more meaningful.
The holy season of Christmas has always been about giving in our home. We have helped over forty families have a joyful holiday. The circumstances have been different, but God has led me to them. I have had to solicit help from friends and neighbors at times because my “joyful” included new floors, furniture, games, toys, bed linens, new outfits for all nine kids, and trees and lights. We have piled houses full of pantry items and gifts that children put on Santa’s list. Just like the tree, every year has looked different. My guys have done little of the shopping but loved being a part of the cookie baking and delivering of the yuletide greetings. We have shed tears together reminiscing the look on the grandparents’ faces when we explained we had paid ahead for drug refills. We all cried when the couple called us on Christmas morn and said they had received so much that they took some of their gifts and gave to the couple who lived under the bridge.
I loved including our Young Life groups. They wrapped and gathered with such fun and frolic. They wanted to be in on “giving”. They too would cry after we delivered toys and food to a family that had hard luck and couldn’t have Christmas that year. I get reports back from those kids who are now forty some. They report adopting families of their own because the joy is in the giving.
Christmas is dancing lights, colorful packages, smiling gingerbread men, and a heart filled with the joy of helping mankind. The blessing to us has been much greater than any of the blessings we have bestowed. Our family has wonderful memories of the five little kids that just grabbed a gingerbread man and stared at us as we told the advent story. They were stuck to those cookies and wondered why all these gifts filled their small living area.
We remember fondly of the “overstock” Christmas. We had so many gifts that we filled our son’s jeep as well as our van. We delivered them to the family and did our singing and gospel story. Then, when we left after tears and hugs, we discovered we had a whole seat of food and linens still left. I told our son ,"Let’s just go driving down Madison and see what God has for us. " Conservative John has always been aghast at some of his mother’s meanderings and expectations. He drove and I prayed and asked God to reveal to whom these items belonged . It was cold and windy. John had on his Annapolis masked cadet face that showed little emotion.
Suddenly, I heard God. “John, stop right here.” His response, “ Oh, mom.” At the bus stop was a very large lady with a very thin coat. I approached her and told her God had sent us with some Christmas surprises. She began to cry and thank God . “Lordy, Lordy, Lordy! You have heard my prayer. Thank you , Jesus.” She showed us where she lived , and John and I delivered two baskets of food and a basket of new sheets, blankets, and pillows. We even had extra money to put in her hand. It was a double blessed Christmas. I saw water standing in those icey blue eyes of our son. It was difficult not to react to such thankfulness.
All these families have taught me that I too should be just as demonstrative in thanking God for His many provisions. I too cry out, “ Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, thank you , Jesus.” I am tearful when I think of my abundance of blessings of a faithful and dear husband, sons who are loyal to God and have integrity. I am humbled to have been given such a wonderful daughter-in-law , who helps me prepare meals and willingly sees that I get to play with the granddaughters to my heart is content. I am blessed with good health as they are also. We have enough to share with others. I cry out to God, “ Thank you for a season that brings out this giving nature in so many. "It is because we give , we can live abundantly.