The Ornaments of Christmas Past

In the early morning hours when I cannot sleep, I love coming downstairs, snuggling under my Christmas blanket, and sit in the warm glow of the Christmas tree. The blue lights hung around our front door and palm tree outside shimmer through the frosted windows. We have a new gold star as the crowning glory of our tree, casting just the right amount of light. Wrapped around the base of our tree is a gorgeous hand quilted tree skirt I received as a wedding shower gift.

As with many families, our ornaments have memories attached to them. There are ones we have purchased at each new place we traveled to, ornaments celebrating Matt and my first dating Christmas(1985), first married Christmas, Sara’s first Christmas (23 years ago!), and some ornaments from close friends, such as one that I received (from close friends of my parents- that now celebrate Christmas in heaven) when I was 8 years old(I will not say how many years ago that was) 😊

Each year Matt hangs ornaments that he actually painted as a child. Unfortunately, I have very little ornaments from my childhood. The one ornament I have is of gingerbread angels and gingerbread men. It is peeling and probably made with lead paint, but I treasure it just the same.

(Matt’s painted ornaments)

When I look at it, I’m reminded of the very first gift I chose and paid for all by myself. I was in first grade and our school library had a small craft fair. I remember being so proud that I bought my parents a gift with my very own quarter (yup that’s what it cost). My treasure of a find was a small glass snowman with a black hat and a green scarf. I remember how happy and surprised my parents were when they opened it. They hung it on the tree every year. I loved how it sparkled when placed just so in front of the string of tree lights. Sadly, I no longer know where it is since circumstances prevented me from having the ornaments from my childhood.

This Advent season amidst the waiting, the hope and joy of the Christmas season, there’s also loss and hearts needing to be healed. I will of course be missing my mom and my Godfather (who I can’t believe have been gone 5 and 6 years respectively). It’s only 7 months since my Dad passed away and a few weeks ago, we unexpectedly lost someone very dear to our hearts. She “adopted” my family nearly 12 years ago when she learned we had just moved to NC and I was so far away from family for the very first time. Her family(her husband and daughter-my bestie) then became family to us as well.

To be honest, I’m grieving and the idea of having merriment eludes me at times. I try to hide it, but I’m clinging to my faith- sometimes grasping at it so tightly, hands clenched, white knuckled in prayer (at least they would be if my hands were better). Yet, I also feel guilty because there are some wonderful possibilities opening up for me, so I should be rejoicing in that. But if I’m rejoicing, shouldn’t I be grieving? My emotions love to play this ping pong match with my heart. I have been trying to think about how my loved ones would have reacted to these future possibilities, and that makes me smile. I’m hopeful when I recognize the joy in these grace filled moments.

Although I may not have all the physical ornaments of my childhood, I do have memories of them boosted by some blurry pictures of the Christmas tree from my childhood. But, more importantly I have memories of my parent’s smiles when they opened that messily wrapped snowman package (those of you who know me well, know that my wrapping skills have not improved and I can’t even blame RSD for that). 🙂

Snowman circled in blue near teddy bear

I know that no matter what gift may be under the tree or hanging on it- like my precious quarter bin snowman ornament – a physical present can never replace a person’s presence. So, tomorrow I will delight in sharing my fond, loving memories of past Christmas celebrations with our loved ones. I hope I can be the peace that someone else may need with my presence as we grieve, reminisce, and smile together on Jesus’ birthday.

Wishing you & your loved ones a blessed, joyous holiday season, enjoying each other’s presence, along with a healthy, peace-filled New Year! I look forward to sharing my November experience at the United Nations and other exciting news in 2020! 

What are you waiting for?

waitinghold

 

How many times have you been on hold? Sometimes it is a silent hold and you begin to wonder, did they disconnect me? Or you may be lucky enough to hear MUZAK for your listening pleasure. When (or if) they come back on the line, your eyelids have closed and you are about to let out a gentle snore.  But, have you noticed if the hold music just happens to be a song you like, it seems as if not much time has passed at all?

In this ASAP culture any amount of waiting seems to be too long. How many times have you zigzagged your mouse around thinking it would load your page faster? I have done it at least twice today. There was a comedian that did a joke about the pop tarts box. The directions, of course were to put them in a toaster. Yet, under that listed microwave directions. The big joke was who doesn’t have time to wait for a toaster?  Then again, some mornings waiting the last few minutes for the coffee to finish brewing seems like an eternity.

When I think about it, in writing a manuscript, the main character(s) spends a lot of time waiting to get to their goal. Obviously you can’t have them achieve it in the first chapter. You must develop obstacles that the main character stumbles over along the way. Their struggles move the story along-at least you hope it does.

Sometimes the inpatient waiting takes place even before you can get to writing.  You come up with this fantastic plot.  You have some inkling of your beginning, some middle scenes and a possible ending (or two). You just wish your writing fairy could zig zag your mouse and it would be finished. But that doesn’t happen.  Alas, there is no writing fairy (who knew?) and you have to go through the ups and downs of the writing process. Once you have finally completed your draft, you still  must edit, edit, edit, ad infinitum….

As hard as the waiting involved in my writing process may be, waiting for a sign of hope in my own life is so much harder.  Right now things are not the way I wish they could be for a loved one. I can see that there is an ending, but I can’t just jump to the end. I so badly want to be on the other side of this episode, but I know (especially because it has happened before) speed bumps loom around the corner and they will be painful. Only time can bring about a result and I have no way of knowing if it will help this person or not.

When I am having a pain flare up, I know that even though the pain will not completely disappear, eventually it will be a little less severe. I would love to just skip over this flare up and say ‘been there, done that’. Unfortunately, zig zagging a mouse over my leg and hands do not work (hey, it doesn’t hurt to try right?).

These flare ups can come on due to changes in barometric pressure or for no reason at all. But sometimes my flare ups come on because of the pressure I put on myself during times of exceptional stress. Because of that, I have not taken the time to let my body rest. So the flare up forces me to stop. While stuck in bed and having my mini pity party, it seems like my prayers have not been heard (the silent hold). But then I may receive a phone call from a close friend.  Or a wonderful friend stops by with a chocolate shake (my nerves may be in pain, but my taste buds aren’t)!  At that point I realize God heard my prayer after all.  He sent me these loved ones.

Sometimes the wait will bring about an outcome that is completely opposite from what I had envisioned.  Sometimes the wait will come at the most inopportune time. But,sometimes during the wait there are gifts of grace and of friendship.  And that is not a time you would want to zig zag your mouse over to get though it ASAP.

Have you had a time of waiting that gave you more than you expected?

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