Treasuring and Pondering Christmas

Christmas morning. With older teenagers, we no longer have the urgency to start early in the morning. The first person up turned on the Christmas lights. I put on a Christmas worship CD, but it was soon drowned out by the noise of family life. The showers are busy, the coffeepot is started. My second son decides it is time to wrap his gifts. The kids give the dog their gift of dog biscuits which causes him to suspect that all of the packages under the tree might contain treats.

Relaxing over coffee, my thoughts are filled with memories of all of our Christmases with children. The pictures flash by like a movie on fast forward. The early Christmases, when they were toddlers, and we taught them to sit and wait for us to give them a gift and to take turns, interrupted sometimes by a tantrum or meltdown. A few years later, our floundering attempts to teach them the Christmas story while their imaginations were more focused on the presents stacked under the tree. The elementary age children sneaking down Christmas morning to discover that the number of gifts had miraculously multiplied while they slept. Then the joy of watching them learn to give gifts to others, small surprises thoughtfully considered for each other and for us. So many Christmases that went by so quickly.

Today I will savor our time together. Friends have tried to warn me that things will change, but I am not yet ready to hear their warnings. For now, I am happy to cover my ears to the rumblings of my children’s subversive plans to grow up and leave. I know that eventually I will have to gracefully release them, but for today, I will indulge my need to clutch their childhood with greedy hands, not yet willing to let go.

Rather than attempting to create a special experience, I find myself simply sitting back and treasuring the amazingly special ordinariness of being “us” together. In the setting of a holiday meal and the space of a day with no other obligations, we enjoy moments of togetherness that are all too rare in the hustle bustle of our everyday lives.

There is laughter and teasing amidst an excessive amount of popcorn tins, peanut M&M’s, and new DVD’s – Ratatouille, Evan Almighty, and Live Free, Die Hard – to name a few. I remind everyone to pace themselves with the candy and to not spoil their dinner, knowing no one is really listening, but I still have to say it. My husband is busy finding ways to pester everyone with his telescopic squeegee, one of his favorite gifts. My daughters each knit me a scarf, my favorite gifts.

After dinner we will play games together. My oldest votes for anything but Pictionary. My cold and calculating second son would like to play Risk. My husband refuses to play Monopoly with me. Although with a little Christmas wine, I might mellow out and let someone else win. Once we figure out what to play, I’m sure we will have a good time.

This coming weekend we will be traveling to spend time with our parents. We will cherish our time with them also. My mother survived stomach cancer this year. My father-in-law is recovering from a heart attack that he had a week ago. My husband’s sister is faltering in her long battle with a rare type of lung cancer. Time together, precious and much too short.

When we were younger, time together looked like it stretched out in front of us generously, year after year. But all too quickly, the years become scarce.  We suddenly find ourselves looking back at the last time we spent together with someone we love, unable to turn back time. Not all of the changes are losses. Some of them are simply changes in the seasons of life. This year, I am surrounded by the people that I love. I can not take for granted that I will have these special moments every year with my parents, my sisters, or my children. And so for today, I will treasure the moments and the memories.

Merry Christmas to my friends and readers here at the blog. May you experience the treasure of amazingly ordinary moments with the people you love.

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11 thoughts on “Treasuring and Pondering Christmas

  1. It is strange how when you get older, time goes by faster! I, too, am refusing to accept what I see when I look at my children, and my parents. Life at the moment is bittersweet…
    Merry Christmas!

  2. What a beautiful reminder — I am in the thick of baby-toddler-kindergartener life, wondering when I will have a moment when someone is not sucking me, pulling my hair, whining or waking up in the night…and yet I ache to BE WITH my kids and not tune out in the midst of the everyday stress. Thank you for helping me gain perspective.

  3. LOL, Grace…I’m worried about hanging in there one day at a time! I’ll cross the “letting go” bridge when I get there ;^)

    Thanks for the wonderful ponderings….

  4. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of savoring parental time while you have it. May you be blessed with much more.

  5. Grace ~ We had some similar scenes here this Christmas, only a little more chaotic and with a few guests. It sounds like you you truly treasured the moments and kept your heart peaceful which is pretty cool. Merry Christmas!

  6. We had the new experience of welcoming our oldest back for Christmas from university in another province. True, it was only her first semester away, but it’s a sign of the change.

    Another is that my fourteen-year-old son has (almost) equalled me in height (6’0″), and if he grows into his shoe size, by this time next year I will no longer be the tallest in our home.

    And my youngest had her first “double digits” birthday this year.

    I’m the more reflective type, so I also take note of these signs of the parental times. Although, I really must recommend some new games to you guys: Dutch Blitz. We love it, and introduced it to our DTS students from Europe, and it’s also their new favourite.

    Merry post-Christmas to your clan!

  7. Bryan,
    I hope this season with your wife and beautiful children was wonderful. Thanks for the YWAM video today. It was worth the 10 minutes to hear the message of forgiveness and grace.

    Lori,
    Bittersweet is a good word. It’s hard to accept how suddenly we arrived at this phase of life.

    Jemila,
    I remember. It seems like only a few days ago. Thanks for stopping by, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you better through the scribe.

    jonathan,
    I hear you, and I heard you through your words about your stepfather.

    sonja,
    I’m glad that your day was wonderful. I’ve enjoyed reading about the things that were special to you.

    Peggy,
    Those 3 little boys will be young men towering over you soon. The bridge arrives much too quickly.

    Paul,
    Thank you and blessings to you and your family in the new year.

    Pete,
    When your babies are 15, it seems that time has sifted through your fingers and there is precious little left. Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to getting to know you also.

    Glenn,
    I’m glad you had a wonderful time with your family. It sounds like grandchildren are one of the great blessings of this next phase of life. May you continue to experience His peace and presence in the new year.

    Robby,
    I’m sure you are enjoying your time with Jo. My second son remains unconvinced with my argument for the college in our community, so we may be experiencing the first escape from our nest next fall. Piece of cake, right?

    We actually owned the game Dutch Blitz at one time but never opened it or learned how to play so I gave it away. Sounds like we should have hung onto that one. Our game time got cut short because my husband went in the back yard and shot an 8-point buck with his bow (sorry if that’s offensive to anyone). We ended up playing Beyond Balderdash which was a blast.

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