This Christmas was a little different as it had an aura of sadness about it. As I got up on Christmas morning and started to get ready for the day, it felt as if a heavy weight was slowing me down. This has become a familiar feeling in the last couple of weeks. I asked God, "Will this feeling ever go away? Why today, on Christmas?" I automatically thought of a new widow - who may never be rid of a weight of sadness that is much heavier than mine - and I felt so selfish. I prayed for her & her family and went downstairs to mine.
In spite of the initial Christmas-morning sadness, this Christmas holds many special memories for me.
1) The surprise and wonder that my 3-year old had this year. At that age, little ones don't remember past Christmases and everything is so new and amazing. On Christmas Eve, we went to my in-law's, as is tradition. Zane knew there were gifts and after supper he asked if we would be doing presents soon. When I said that we would, he said, "For Katrina?" "Yes," I said, "for Katrina and for you, too!" His eyes got so big. Then I began to list the family members that would be receiving gifts: "Michael, Cassia, Anna..." "And Grandma and Grandpa?!" he nearly shouted. It was so sweet.
He was shocked that he not only received one gift, but two. One of his gifts was a Thomas the Tank Engine book with little figurines of the various characters as well as a play-mat. He absolutely loved it. Later, as we were moving the play-mat & trains into the toy room, he asked Grandma, "Can I keep this?" She told him that he could. "Can I take this home?" He was totally flabbergasted at this whole concept. And when he found out there were more gifts the next morning...wow!
Zane is most likely our last little one. Though I am enjoying sleeping through the night & being diaper-free, I am truly going to miss this stage of wonder.
2) While the 3-year old tugs at the heart-strings, the 13 year old tickles the funny bone. After the gifts were opened at Grandma's house and we were digging into the desserts, he was watching the annual television broadcast of "It's a Wonderful Life." We had already watched that earlier in the season and we were soon going to be watching "The Nativity" (a wonderful movie, by the way) on DVD. As he was sitting in the old easy chair, he suddenly said something like, "The more I watch this movie, the more I think George should have jumped from the bridge." HA HA HA!!! Gotta love the teenager!
3) Starting a few years ago, some of my children began to make gifts for their daddy & I. Last year, they did some things for each other. It thrilled my heart to see them exchange gifts on Christmas morning with one another. Though there seems to be an awful lot of bickering among them, they truly do love each other.
4) We gave our 8-year old a cupcake decorating set. It really was fun baking mini-cupcakes and helping her decorate some on a relaxing Christmas afternoon. The fact that she could actually take some to her grandmother later on truly made her happy. I think it is a memory the both of us will cherish for some time to come.
5) Our oldest son prepared a short message for us and "preached" it on Christmas night. It was about 5 minutes long, but it was well thought out and delivered. It wasn't the Christmas story, but it was about Christ's command to us as He left the earth - to tell the world the gospel. It is my prayer that Michael will continue to prepare messages and deliver them as the Lord allows.
6) Though there were many special moments in our day, my most cherished memory will be of the prayer meeting we attended at our church on Christmas night. Our church has a men's prayer meeting on the last Saturday of every month. As the last Saturday in December happened to be Christmas, the pastors decided to hold the prayer meeting for anyone who wasn't already occupied with family, etc. In order not to separate families on Christmas, the meeting was open to all family members. Pastor asked that all who were in attendance pray. It was his desire, also, that we just praise & thank God and not ask for anything. What a special time that was. About 50 souls were there, each with freshly wounded hearts due to recent events, and each of us just praised and thanked God for His goodness to us.
Our 5-year old, Gloria, was quite distracted by the idea that she would have to pray out loud among all of those people. In all honesty, I think there were a few of us who were a bit intimidated. She whispered to me a couple of times that she didn't want to do it and she didn't know what to say. I told her to just pray, "Thank you, Jesus, for my family and thank You for saving me. Amen." As it worked out, she had to wait quite a while before it was her turn. I wasn't sure what she would do. Gloria's turn came and her sweet voice was heard saying, "Dear Jesus: Thank You for the manger. Thank You for being born. Thank You for dying on the cross. Thank you for the world....Amen"
Of all of my special Christmas memories, nothing will top that of my sweet 5-year old's innocent & heart-felt prayer that night. There was no weight of sadness at that moment - just pure joy.