For a number of years we have counted down to Christmas together here on the Journey.
As I pondered what our 25 day Count down would look like I imagined one of those fun Advent Calendars where you open a door each day and discover some kind of picture or chocolate treat.
Instead of doing a devotional approach, I have been praying about how to offer you something that would be different.
YESSSSS!!!! Jesus is the reason for the season, but there are soooooo many people doing devotions that are very good and I want to read some of those myself. If I focus on trying to do any kind of study, I end up not being fed myself as much and you know what…I need to feed my soul and spirit this Christmas from some other teachers.
So each day I hope you will come and “open the paper window” on a little vignette based on some special ornaments on our tree.
My prayer and the desire of my heart is that it will at least entertain you and at best stir up some of your memories as we sort out the journey to Christmas Day 2021 together.
These two ornaments landed side by side on our tree this year and each has a story.
The fancy Santa holding his tall tower of presents glitters with all the fun and joy of my collective childhood memories of the best of the traditions of Christmas. He was a gift from Russ’s Aunt Lucille and Uncle Bob one year. The only year I think they gave us such a gift as we usually got a calendar from his insurance agency.
I love the details of Santa and each package; the colors..the way his hands are just so big and little elves are tucked into the packages and even his hat.
It is fun and joyous and reminds me of the generosity we associate with the better parts of this season.
Whether people are celebrating Jesus’ birth or just caught up in the doings of the holidays, there is a festive sense of good will and kindness on a grander scale than we feel the first eleven months each year.
There is another memory you cannot see with your eyes. It’s a Christmas Eve gathering with the Reimer side of the family in some little hall in some little town in the middle of Iowa farm country.
A long table holds all manner of potluck dishes and other tables are set with paper plates and folding chairs. The room is filled with chatter as cousins and siblings reconnect. There is eating and coffee being consumed as laughter fills every paneled corner of this rented space.
Our Rachel is running around in the sweetest burgundy velvet dress with a perfect ecru lace collar that I splurged on at the local department store.
She is chasing her second cousin who is several years her senior and not quite as tickled at meeting up with the younger generation of this big family. She keeps calling out “Ewick”…as at three she has trouble with her R’s.
An irony for one who’s initials are R.R….but oh well.
I also picture Aunt Lucille another earlier year holding this same little girl as an infant. She had been fussing something fierce but in Lucille’s warm arms she fell asleep and I can remember this sweet woman, with her distinctive and beautiful Reimer features, holding our girl with the same facial lines…and smiling into her sleeping face.
So it’s more than a Santa I see.
I see the family I married into that loved me and I loved them and now so many are gone.
But the memories…they have not faded and those same features are etched into our grandchildren
And then there is the simple nail hanging beside it.
The nail is one of a set that was sent to us years ago by our Sonja. Married to Russ’s brother we insist on calling her our sister because she surpasses being only a legal relative.
Nine nails in a gift box, each with a red ribbon attached and a story of the Savior whose birth we celebrate.
Every year our kiddos would take three of the nails with their red ribbons and place on the tree.
They are a reminder as we celebrate the birth of Christ; He was sent for a purpose.
He brought the Kingdom of God to earth and He suffered and then died for our sins and the sin of this fallen world. He was resurrected He ascended and He lives… and so we remember the gift of His salvation every day; and especially during this season.
Now I place the nails on myself.
And each year I think of how the years have passed so quickly.
All the rush and hubbub of creating Christmas memories for our little ones has passed.
They will come at some point, hopefully, and we will enjoy their grown up selves, but the tree that stands and holds the same ornaments year after year speaks a lot of stories to a mom’s heart.
I wonder if your tree tells some fine stories, too.
I hope you will stand and gaze into the branches and allow yourself to remember season’s past.
You may need a tissue or four, I know I do…and you may laugh heartily or have a spark of a Christmas past that was kind of painful…but the stories are our journey and they are worth remembering and sharing and lifting up to God as a fragrant offering of thanksgiving.
I also love that these two parts of Christmas landed next to each other without me even trying. I struggle bringing the Santa/tree/cookies/Miracle on 34th Street magic in line with the simple story of God sending His Son to a poor couple in a manger in Bethlehem.
But I don’t think God struggles.
I think Him coming to live amongst us in our every day lives was the point.
I think He is not threatened by the things that can distract me.
I think He is best found in families and in friends and in homes that are real and messy and trying to make sense of how His Kingdom has invaded our earth and yet we still wait for it’s fulfillment.
Blessings my friends.
See you tomorrow <3