Saturday, January 1, 2011

Keep it All the Year

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.... ~ Charles Dickens

This post will be annoyingly honest. I caution you to skip this if your emotions are still floating in homemade hot chocolate, because the first part of this confession may be scalding to the taste and without any good marshmallows. However, if you are brave enough to join me on this journey, you will hopefully be rewarded with a new brew of chocolatey goodness to sip the whole year through...not just during the Christmas season.

First, a little background information about me. If I didn't think Christmas sweaters were so tacky, I would wear them starting in October. The Christmas season is a time for my dramatic self to don silver bell earrings, pins that say "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" on my labcoat, and adorable Christmas shirts from Target that are a steal at 5$. The Christmas CDs are pulled out of their resting places, and I sweeten my coffee with peppermint mocha creamer. If you could see inside my heart, it would literally have white twinkling lights, beautiful creamy and silver bows, the scents of pine and sugar cookies and love, and most likely a book creation of some sort. (That is for you, Lucy!) I enjoy decorating my house for Christmas, and I savor each ornament's memory as it finds a specific place on the tree. You can't just hang them anywhere. There is a rhyme and reason. Trust me.

We had plans this Christmas. We were going to enjoy Christmas Eve as a little family of three and wake on Christmas morn to cinnamon rolls and warm coffee. Then, we would travel to Charlotte to see my family for Christmas lunch then off to Asheville to see my husband's family.

Christmas Eve went as planned. We spent it with our friends, the Damerons, eating a comforting meal of steak and baked potatoes with a dessert of red velvet peppermint cake. Because neither of us was with "blood" family that evening, we made our own family together.

On Christmas Day, I woke up at 7am to finish packing for the planned trip west. Patrick woke up an hour later and checked the weather forecast. Even though the snow wasn't supposed to come till later that night and early the next morning, he thought it was best to stay here until the snow had passed.

I am a planner. Any disruption in my plans causes havoc. Even a good disruption. I provoked fights for the next 4 hours. I took breaks from my nagging to put on different faces such as the "I'm genuinely happy to be with my little boy on Christmas" face and the "I'm genuinely irritated at you for changing plans on me at the last minute and now we have no food for lunch" face.

Don't misunderstand me. I cherished every moment of this Christmas morning with my Jonah. I wish I could have wrapped the moon for him; however, somewhere between the opening of presents, my selfish third-grade self emerged. I began to resent the decision my husband and I had agreed upon weeks before: no stockings or presents for each other. We had already upgraded our phones and exchanged one semi-expensive item a few days before (translation: 50$ or less.) I was discouraged that we wouldn't see either of our families on this specific day...Christmas Day. I wouldn't see my cousins or grandparents, sister or aunts and uncles. There would be no honey baked ham or warm pecan pie. No clanking of glasses or rattling of forks as the dishes are washed and dried. No traditions that I had grown to know and love that I could have recounted in my sleep.

My soul was scrooge-like in all of its musings. Around mid-afternoon, we took Jonah and his new John Deere tractor outside to experiment. It was here, in the silence of the Christmas afternoon, with the dying brown grass beneath my feet and the sound of a battery-operated wal-mart toy, that I was visited by Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

My past, with all of its homey glitter and magic, allowed me to see Christmas through a child's own, and His.

My present, with all of its simplicity and silence, reminded me to be still. To know. To trust. To strip away the gaudy bows and personal plans so that nothing could get in the way of love. The love of a family. My own little family of three.

My future, with all of its unknowns and uncertainty, reminded me of the one absolute that never changes. Christ. Christ came here, so that my damaged heart could be decorated all year long. Twinkling lights of a hope in things unseen, which are eternal. Creamy and silver bows wrapped around simple love. Scents of grace and mercy and forgiveness.


The next day, snow blanketed the dying brown grass. My little family of three walked to the grocery store together with large flakes hitting our eyelashes. We built a fire in the backyard and roasted s'mores. We made our own traditions of Christmas and laughed, but we still desperately missed our families. Our journey eventually led us to each of our childhood homes, and I felt complete. Although December 25th had passed in ways I had not planned, Christmas was not over.

Christmas is never over. The tree will come down, the stockings will be folded once again for the next year; however, these are just materials that symbolize the decorations that stay in the heart all year long.

Merry Christmas, today and every day. May you keep it all the year....


Craftberry Bush said... loves this post!

I keep saying to you how this year Christmas felt extra especial to me...this year I felt God so close to me as we gathered to celebrate the birth of his was powerful,beautiful and as I read your post I could feel him right here again...thank you!
I'm so glad I met you! xo

Hailey said...

This was beautiful, Anna!
I'm a planner too, so I can totally sympathize.
I'm glad you still had a wonderful Christmas.