Memories from Christmas past. As I look back, there are very few presents that I remember from the Christmas' of yesterday. Oh don't misunderstand - there were gifts for sure, but that's not what my mind remembers first or best. When I was a kid we would always get together with my mom's family on Christmas Eve. We would eat dinner and then visit until it was dark enough to go look at Christmas lights. We'd drive around town, looking and laughing and then return back to Grandma and Grandpa's house - where Santa had already come and delivered our presents because Gram's last name started with an A and thus we were at the top of his list :-) On Christmas Day we'd go to see my dad's family. We'd eat lunch, open gifts and then while the grownups had dull conversation, I would build forts with blanks and card tables. Then I'd see how many grown up I could get to come join me in some real fun.
I grew up, got married and Matt and I started our own family and our own traditions. Our first Christmas we almost didn't have a tree. We'd flown back to Arizona the week before Christmas and flew back to Florida on Christmas Eve. We didn't get a tree until about 4pm on Christmas Eve and we literally rescued it from the garbage truck in the Kmart parking lot. Christmas in Connecticut took all day. The boys would open a gift, stop and play. Then they'd open another gift, stop and play...they hated clothes...they'd just throw then over their shoulder and move right on to the next box. I remember in 2001 when we left the Navy and moved the the Midwest. It was the first year that our boys were able to go to Matt's families Christmas Eve gathering - there are tables full of food and yummy desserts. They always have a pinata and duck tape, and Santa always shows up with a bag full of gifts for the kids. In our home, everybody gets an ornament every year - usually it relates to something that's happened or some place we have gone in the last 12 months. On Christmas morning, we always open stockings first, have french toast casserole for breakfast and surf and turf for lunch or dinner, depending on Matt's schedule. We do a Christmas puzzle. We watch Elf and eat summer sausage, cheese and crackers. But things are changing. Time marches on. The boys are growing up. As I look back, there are very few gifts I can remember. But I'll never forget the moments. Decorating the tree together. The year the power came back on late on Christmas Eve after 5 long cold days. The laughing and grumbling that was shared when Matt and our brother in law put together all of the boys Christmas toys in the early years; the smiles we shared when we realized that our kids like the big boxes that stuff came in as much or more than shiny new stuff. Following snow plows down I74 late on Christmas Eve, as we made our way back to our home. Fervent prayers as we let the children hold real candles with real flames at Christmas Eve services (please Jesus, don't let a Wilson set anything on fire - Amen). Reindeer food and cookies for Santa. Reading the Christmas story.
But Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2
Let's be honest, there are times when we all think that our special child is God's gift to the world. In Mary's case that was the real TRUTH. Her son would change everything - and she knew it. As my children grow, I have a deeper appreciation for this verse. Mary didn't miss it. She tucked away those first moments in a special place that she would be able to recall later. Did she think about that first Christmas morning when Jesus was a normal preschool boy asking questions, making messes, getting dirty and driving her crazy? Or maybe when Jesus was 12 and missing at the temple because He was spending time with the Biblical scholars of His time? I'm sure she thought of that day when she followed he son's footsteps to Calvary, when she followed His body to the tomb, and then on Sunday when the tomb was found empty. Sometimes I forget in the rush of this season that moments are what matter most, and I should not be wasteful with them.
God help me today to treasure up moments in my heart. Give me the wisdom to enjoy each day as You give it. And let me draw on the memories of these moments later, and find strength in the faithfulness of Your blessings and Your love...when life is hard. Amen