It's December 17th....my grandpa's birthday. He has been gone almost 20 years now and I miss him. Especially this time of year.
I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. Not the 'Christmas' that the stores celebrate, but the Christmas that we, as Christians, celebrate. I love the story of how our Savior was brought into the world to save us. Such humble beginnings for the King of Kings. I love the lights, the Christmas tree's, the season of giving to others, and last, but certainly not least, I LOVE Christmas carols. (Actually, I'm slightly a fanatic when it comes to Christmas carols. For 30-some days of the year I listen to nothing other than Christmas carols! Yeah it's sick...I know:)
This time of year always stirs memories of past Christmas'. We had a fairly large family and the door was always open to friends at my grandma and grandpa's house. People would pop in and out on Christmas Eve and the presents would just continue to grow. My grandma, mom, and aunt were excellent wrappers and each gift looked like it came from the gift wrapping department at Macy's. The children would anxiously await the time that we would hear an adult tell us that we could begin to unwrap our presents. In a frenzy that resembled sharks feeding, we would tear into the beautiful packages leaving a whirlwind of bows, paper, and boxes.
Our family is much smaller now. My grandparents have all passed away, my aunt has passed away, my uncles have moved and us grandkids are scattered throughout the United States with families of our own. Our door is still open, but very few people stop by. With all of the joy this time of year brings, there is also an ache. I miss my family. I miss my grandma's mincemeat cookies and the way she would cook as if 100 people were coming to dinner. I miss the way my grandpa, who was a very quiet man, would sit on the couch not saying much, but taking it all in. You could see his eyes sparkle and his mouth would be turned upward in a very content, joyful smile. I imagine that he was just happy to see everyone he loved gathered together. I miss opening presents from my aunt. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't about the present itself. My aunt would always try to buy you something off the wall. Something that she knew you would love, but you wouldn't really think of buying yourself. She put a lot of thought into the gifts she bought.
I am so thankful that I have learned over the years who Christmas is really about. If I didn't know Jesus, I think the memories of the people I have loved and lost would take my breath away. Occasionally, they still do. This Christmas, as I sit with my mom and dad and watch my 4 children open their gifts, I will think back to the Christmas' I had as a child. There will definitely be an ache, but the joy will far outweigh the sadness. Instead of dwelling on those who I miss, I will be thankful that God allowed me to have such amazing people in my life and such wonderful Christmas memories. I will be thankful for my children and my parents and the memories God is allowing my children to make with their grandparents. Then I will, once again, focus on Jesus....and thank God for his indescribeable gift that continues to give every day of the year.