Of Christmas Without “Them”
December 19, 2011 § 2 Comments
I can still hear her voice quiver as each year she gathered her houseful of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the table. Just before the blessing, she would recount her love for her family and her thankfulness to God for being alive to share in the celebration of Christmas with those she loved most.
My great-grandmother was a mother to five, three girls and two rambunctious boys, but known as “Mama” to most. I called her Grandmother Cost. She lived through the depression, along with her husband and children, and her life-long work ethic was a testimony to this.
Each Sunday she would prepare a home-cooked (usually home-grown) meal complete with a made-from-scratch, scrape the plate clean, chocolate cake. For any and all family that would gather to eat after church, Mama’s was the place to congregate.
Her home would not grace the spreads of any fashionable magazines, but rather was a place of memories made. I can picture in my mind the brown and gold shag carpet and worn linoleum floors. Feel the coolness of rooms long ago filled with laughter and quarreling, that in the later decades remained shut to sustain heat in the main living areas.
It always felt to my childhood mind that the presence of those past memories and people, namely at that time my great-grandfather I never knew, roamed about in those rooms, but that is probably attributed to the overactive imagination of a child.
Mama worked her own garden and mowed her own lawn until her death in her mid nineties. If the Braves or Crimson Tide were playing, you could find her in her matriarchal recliner occasionally arguing with calls made.
Sunday’s you would find her at church.
My Grandmother Cost knew that her days were numbered, but she did not know the number of her days. That is why with tears and a quivering voice each Christmas before grace was said and thanks was given, she would let her offspring know of her love and appreciation for us all.
When we were ready to eat, we knew that Mama would be making her yearly speech and the room would grow uncomfortable with the thought of not having her presence at the table in subsequent years. They were the words of a woman who loved and was loved and needed to tell you one more time.
As we are entering Christmas week, my thoughts turn to broken hearts that have lost loved ones this year. How they must weep with their loss. I can recount the lives that I know have passed this year. A father, husband, and cop. A daughter, mother, and sister. A friend, co-worker, Papa and dad. These are only three lives who have in someway intersected with mine, but who bring hot tears when I think of their loved ones who miss them so much.
What about us? Who is it that we need to express our love, extend our gratitude, or grace with verbalized (perhaps unsought) forgiveness this Christmas?
This may be the last Christmas… or the beginning of more meaningful friend and family-filled Christmas’ to come.
I would much rather be remembered for a quiver in my sentimental voice than have regrets that I did not say, “I love you, He loves you, and the only real decision that will matter in light of eternity is:
What did we do with Jesus?”
When the coffin is closed, when death has stung, when our time has come, what did we do with the baby born in Bethlehem? The Christ-child turned crucified Savior and finally the risen King of Redeeming Kings?
We may have some regrets as we contemplate the thought of one last Christmas or that last Christmas with the one we loved. Our Father knows that we are but dust-formed lives. He sees, He knows, and He forgives those who ask. I pray for healing in hurting hearts that may read this post. After being a wreck earlier this year, I know even more fully that it is God who numbers our days.
As we joyfully celebrate this blessed season, may we seek restoration in Him and seek to restore others who are hurting and broken over Christmas without them.
If you are reading via e-mail subscription, get out your tissues and click here to watch the accompanying music video by Matthew West.
Raise the Risk Challenge:
- Say, “I love you, I forgive you, or thank you,” to those whom God speaks on your heart.
- Write a card or word of encouragement to someone who is spending their Christmas without a dear family member or friend.
- Help a family in need in spiritual and physical ways this Christmas.
- Watch this message by my pastor, Dr. Willy Rice.