Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas…traditions, memories and focus

I haven’t blogged in a while. Sorry, I haven’t meant to be scarce, but the month of December brings a different focus for me.

December is busy…but in a good way. Busy with the fun stuff that memories are made of. Things like decorating a gingerbread house, stringing popcorn garland, making cutout cookies and wrapping gifts. Andrew and I have been having a lot of fun!

The snow in Iowa puts a twist on things and often makes travel from day to day a bit iffy (thank goodness for online shopping).

In the snow and ice we must make time for sledding (well they sled, I get out the camera and camcorder)! Oh, the joy of living on a gravel road!

Just trying to keep our 8 month old, Noah, away from the tree is a full time job! :) He’s crawling everywhere and pulling himself up to standing these days. He's growing and learning...and is very busy! 

So far his favorite thing about Christmas is the wrapping paper! :) 

I've been very reminiscent the last several days. I think Christmas tends to bring that out in me. I got to thinking about traditions. I don't remember many. I think my mom’s “tradition” was to do something different every year. We did a lot of fun things, usually involving making something, but we didn’t usually do it more than once. She always tried to think of something new and different and fun to do. Which I've realized was a fun tradition!  :)

As I've reminisced about Christmas’ past, I thought of all kinds of good memories…from yearly stockings full to the brim with all the little stuff that I loved (that was my favorite part) finding my Christmas presents in my mom’s closet one year and being MORE excited on Christmas Eve than ever because I couldn’t wait to play with that walking, barking dog (that was GREAT technology in the 80s, you know?!) that I had playing “bingo” with my family (siblings, nieces, nephews, etc) every year. I loved being with my family! My mom made every Christmas magical and fun and special! So the one “tradition” I cherish the most is the LOVE that I felt…every year!

One of the greatest memories had to do more with giving gifts than it did receiving them. A very kind woman named, Margie, offered to take me Christmas shopping for my mom. She took me to town, gave me a budget and told me I could pick whatever I wanted for my mom. I loved it! I loved it sooo much! She marveled at how far I could make the dollars stretch.

When I was done picking my treasures, we would head back to her house to wrap the presents. I loved that too! Margie was patient and kind. Her husband, Jim (my mom’s first cousin), was sitting in the recliner when we arrived. I thought he was so nice and I loved his teasing and attention. Wrapping gifts was fun.

I felt like my little heart would burst I was so happy! Just thinking about my mom opening these gifts on Christmas morning simply thrilled me! Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Margie appeared with a gift…for me! I didn’t expect it. I was thoroughly surprised…and sooo happy! It was a Cabbage Patch doll…a real one, not a knockoff, a real one! :) Valerie Imogene, that was her name. She had pretty red hair and I loved her. And I could hardly wait for Christmas Day so my mom could open the gifts I knew she was going to love too.

Margie took me shopping like that for 3 years (if I remember right). My mom still has some of the gifts I picked for her…and I still have all 3 gifts that Margie gave to me. What great memories! And it’s all because someone chose to go out of their way to be loving and kind!! Jim and Margie didn’t have to do that, but they chose to…and that little girl, now a mommy herself, will never forget the LOVE!

Andrew and I have enjoyed a lot of fun Christmas activities together this year (and Noah will join us when he gets old enough). It will be interesting to see what traditions “stick” and which do not. What memories they will have and which ones they will forget. But, above all else I hope they remember the LOVE that surrounded them.

This year, I can hardly wait for our little boys to open their gifts because I know they’re eyes are going to light up. I’m thankful for the time with family and friends. I'm thankful for the time I had with my family in Indiana earlier this month and that we get to spend time with my husband's family later this month.  I pray these very important people will feel the LOVE that I have for them and HIS love shining through me! And that I can find ways to reach out to others like Margie did to me...without expecting anything in return.

So, I guess in short, this holiday season I am trying to spend time focusing on what is most important…LOVE. Although I often fall short and have to start all over again the next day, I’m focusing on my friends and family, my little ones and the little One who was born to die for my sins (and yours). He is the reason for it all! So thankful for the LOVE He showed...and continues to show to us each and every day!

No matter where you are in can choose to do the same!

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13


What is your favorite memory? Your favorite tradition?
Where is your focus this Christmas? I’d enjoy hearing about it!