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Sunday, December 20, 2015

O Holy Night

I'm noticing as the years tick by the small things are becoming big. The big are becoming small.

Christmas was always magical for me as a kid growing up. I remember rushing downstairs on Christmas morning filled with so much excitement. This, of course, was after I checked my bedroom window each year just wondering if a pony with a big red ribbon around its neck was awaiting me. I don't think I've ever really admitted to that until just now either. But I did it. Even on the years I didn't ask for a pony, I still looked out that window for a present...just in case it was too big to be inside.

We believed in Santa. For us, it added to the magic of Christmas. He wasn't an idol that we worshipped, but rather an added measure of fun during the season. He always left us amazing presents and filled our stockings with lots of goodies. Santa always had cookies and milk and the reindeer an apple or carrots. Santa always left with a full belly and the reindeer left perfect teeth marks in the apple. I clearly remember the sheer delight I felt on those mornings. Santa delivered us gifts far beyond our discovery of him and I love that even into my teenage years we still got gifts from him, but our level of appreciation were directed to the right people. My parents so graciously made my Christmases incredible. There was no hatred, no feelings of disappointment, no scarring for life when I found out the truth about the man in the red suit. I think maybe because Santa was just an added bonus and again, Christmas wasn't revolving around him.

Now, as a parent, I have taken on a new role during the Christmas season. I am the one creating the magic and wonder. At times, I feel like I am so horrible at it. For example, our Elf on a Shelf Chip didn't make an appearance this year. He is still perfectly placed on a shelf in my closet. I skidded by this year because my kids are still so young. I could have easily brought him out and had him do lots of fun things to entertain them, but I chose not to. Why? Honestly there is no rhyme or reason. I simply put it off and put it off and here we are less than a week from Christmas with no Chip shenanigans. Am I sad about that? Sure. But there is always next year. Am I okay with it? Absolutely.

We have decorated three trees, put up Christmas lights on the house, wrapped presents, bought for kids who would otherwise go without, saw Santa with no tears, dropped money into the bell ringer's buckets, and still have gingerbread houses to build. All while making it fun and magical and trying as best we can to share to our kids why we are celebrating Christmas. This season is one of my favorites. To see the pure joy in my kids make everything worth it.

I want to give, give, give to my children, to my parents, to my family, and friends this year. Fill them not so much with presents this year, but with love.  With quality time.

This morning in church we sang the Christmas songs and I had tears falling during O Holy Night..

The thrill of hope, The weary world rejoices.
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;

O night divine! O night, O night divine!

I am so fortunate to have my family and Ryan's family. They love our kids so much and want to spend so much time with them. Last night my parents showed up to take the kids home with them because "we haven't seen them since yesterday."

Ryan and I are very opposite in our childhoods. He grew up with his grandparents very, very involved. At almost any moment he could show up at their house within minutes. I, on the other hand, would have to travel anywhere from 4 to 6 hours round trip to visit mine. He was so very close to his and as I get older I realize how much I missed out on that precious relationship. I've had dreams lately about my maternal grandmother. They are brief, but each one is about the same. I am craving knowing her. Wanting to know more about her and more about her life. I am sad that I didn't know her better, but I think Heaven will be a beautiful place to know her and love her. Not to mention, my mother is the closest I will get to knowing her and I hold the relationship with my momma so close. My mom's mom passed away Christmas day in 2004 and the older I am getting the more and more I see how hard it must be to be without loved ones, especially parents. Especially on a day that holds so many memories. But as we heard this morning and I truly believe it, God is with us. He is always, always with us. He loves us and understand each burden we are carrying around. The sadness, the regret, the longing in our heart, He understands all of it. He doesn't want us to be focused on that, but handing those burdens to Him so that our hearts can be opened up even more for his goodness. I am so grateful that my parents, Ryan's parents, and one great-grandparent are here to love on my children. To love on me. I know these days are hard, but I know that they won't last. That while I am feeling a small void in my heart, I know that these people I am missing, and possibly you, are sitting with Jesus right now.

I am just grateful. I come back to the word each time I see my kids with their grandparents. How sometimes Ryan and I joke whether or not we will be able to claim them on our taxes this year because they spend so much time with our parents. Just grateful for their relationships with them. That their early childhood memories will be filled with fun, laughs, and love that they received from them.

The birth of Jesus means more to me with each passing day. It's during Christmas time that I feel an overwhelming sense of His love and His gifts. I am so, so thankful.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. Luke 2:14

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