I have sent Christmas cards since I was 13. Every year, I would love the event of gathering addresses, stamps and my favorite pen to write a message to those I loved. There have been years that my words flowed smoothly. The stories and memories from the prior year flooded my soul with happiness.
And then there were other years. Those years, the words were more difficult to find. I would wrestle with finding joy in my memories. At times, I would question if anyone cared what I had to say. But still, I would write. It would start slow, almost forced, typing a paragraph and then deleting half of it. Letter by letter I would build my story for the year and with each word, my spirit would lighten and my heart would swell. Fondly, I would think of those I shared my words with and know that there was purpose in my words, even if for one reader.
This is my Christmas - reflecting on the year to prepare for the season. And then there's this year. My journey to Christmas Day has looked different this December. A few weeks ago, Robbie carried the dozen boxes down from the attic and I started the day-long task of decorating for Christmas. I have loved Christmas my whole life, so you can imagine the vast amount of stuff I have accumulated over the years. Its a favorite time for me as I unpack each item and remember the story attached to it.
My sentiment towards each item was more present this year than in year's past and I'm not quite sure why. One ornament in particular struck me. Its story has stuck with me throughout this month.
This child ornament is part of a set of three. Each child wears a glittery suit and appears to be frolicking in the snow. The sentiment of these ornaments carries a big weight to start. They were hand-painted by one of my dearest childhood friends almost twenty years ago. If you look closely, you'll see there's more to this ornament's story. The dusting of soot on the face and feet were not painted there. Instead, they're remnants of a Christmas several years ago.
Christmas of 1998 was a rough one for me. I was a poor, college grad in the midst of relationship blues. The question loomed over my head "What are you going to do with your life?" "Is this all there is?"
Life wasn't all that bad. I had rented a house with two friends near campus. It wasn't fancy, but it was OURS. We painted it and found treasures at the local junk store to make it our home. I was especially excited to put up a Christmas tree. I came in from work one night, made a bowl of soup and hunkered down on the couch to decorate the tree with the ornaments I had brought back from NY. Despite my personal struggles, I was proud to decorate that tree. It felt like a rite of passage in my new home.
It started as a peaceful night.
Christmas music playing.
We took this picture at church last night. If you can't tell, my heart is beaming!
Enjoy those you love and remember the greatest gift of love born on this day.