Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree...

I broke the cardinal rule of all rules in Christmas decorating this year.  I put my tree up before Thanksgiving.  I have never done such a thing in all my decorating years, and I pondered it over and over in my mind before making the final decision.

Honestly, I just want to enjoy it all this year.

I didn't realize how much of last Christmas I don't remember until I started unpacking my ornaments.  I remember next to nothing about my first Christmas since my mother's death.  And, though I won't be hard on myself about the lack of memory as I was still in the I can't believe she's gone phase of grief, it makes me sad that I missed out on time I can't get back.  So I have purposed that I will enjoy this year, even through the empty place where she should be and the sadness.

I've got my main tree up.  Mantle half-way done with new garland and sparkly mesh.  And I put together a small tree with nothing but vintage ornaments I remember from my childhood.  It may not look special to a stranger, but I will find no greater joy this year in anything else than that little tree.  I remember unpacking these ornaments beside her every single year, hanging them on whatever tree we had that year.  When I was a kid, we had colored lights and a real tree.  In the latter years, it was pure white lights and an artificial tree.  But the ornaments stayed the same.  I feel some sense of comfort knowing how many times she touched them over the years.

Life is hard.  I know so many people struggling this year.  Divorces and deaths and illness.  We live in a disappointing world.  But I want to focus on the real meaning of Christmas this year.  Hope.  Christ's birth gives us a hope that can't be found in anything else on this earth.  It's not just hope in seeing those who have gone on before us or living an eternity in a place where there is no sin, sickness, or disappointment.  Rather it's a hope in a God that can raise from the dead, that can heal the wounds of this world.  A hope in a savior that came to this cruel world and felt all the same feelings I feel every single day.  A hope that there is more to this life than just today.  The hope that this sinful wretch, me, will be loved and granted grace even when neither are deserved.

Life is hard.  Yes.  But hope can be found anywhere.  We just have to look.  May you never stop looking, friend.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found my you," says the Lord.   {Jeremiah 29:11-14a}

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