As I wrap presents and make cookies and listen to carols, I remember.
I remember my childhood. Snowfall and twinkling lights and surprises. The anticipation on Christmas Eve and the magic of feeling loved. Saying my little poem at the church Christmas program. Learning about the Babe in the manger and wondering. Ribbon candy and cookies and oranges. Family. My Daddy’s laughter. And always my mother quietly working behind the scenes to make things warm and delightful. How I miss her gentle serving and selfless giving. How I miss my father’s joy.
I remember when my children were young. Ah, the imperfect chaos of life with littles. And somehow it was now up to me to make the magic. I was both grateful and overwhelmed with all of it. Babies and toddlers and then bodies growing tall. Noise and excitement, treats and traditions. Joy in serving my small crowd of humans, learning how to give and love. And a growing understanding of Christmas and the Christ child and the richness of that best gift given long ago. An opening of my heart to the rest He offers. Rest from inability and doubt and heaviness. From frantic doing. From sin and all of its reaching.
A fresh welcoming of Him as Lord.
And now? No phone calls from my mama asking if I have all the presents wrapped. None of my daddy’s story-telling or exuberant joy. No trips to the snowy north to spend Christmas with them. No one to love me like a mama loves her children.
And part of my heart is missing. Marissa. All the Christmas memories of her a swirl of joy and pain. How I wish I could hold her and laugh with her. Share coffee and talk deep. Watch her sleep. Give her one last surprise. Tell her how much she is loved.
So now I remember with tears.
And yet I know. I know the Dayspring and the Sunrise. I have been brought out of such deep darkness to a gentle, eternal light. He has shined on me through all the dark places. The cold, impossibly hard paths. The valley full of death’s shadows, full of death itself.
And though my grief has changed me and stays with me and will always be part of who I am, I rejoice. That God became flesh to dwell among us, full of grace and truth. That He came to rescue us from sin and all its miseries. That because He came, death is ultimately defeated.
And so I sing the old carols with joy. I remember my blessings, the abundance of all I’ve been given.
I am filled with hope in believing.
Christmas! A Savior is born!
My heart will always remember.
O Savior, Child of Mary,
Who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory,
Who dost our weakness know;
This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us,
And lightens ev’ry load.
From “Lo, How a Rose E’re Blooming”
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14