The Christmas season is undoubtedly my absolute favorite of the year, with Thanksgiving coming in at a close second. It’s filled with traditions, vacations from the routine, the giving of gifts and time with family and friends – what’s not to love about it? And yet, this year has been a bit different in our home. Not in a bad way, but in one that calls for its own share of heart adjusting. One that demands living out these Christmas moments present in each and every way possible.
Our family’s routine typically includes being with my family or Steve’s family, seeing both is an impossibility as they’re separated by over 1000 miles. But this year, our 25th-anniversary cruise fell right in the middle of December, and taking off for another week just wasn’t an option. It’s one of a handful of Christmas mornings that we’ll wake up in our own home. It’s good but different.
We were blessed to gather with my entire family over Thanksgiving – all 23 of us, including grandkids and their new spouses and our son’s fiancée. It was a sweet yet sobering time as we talked thru the grief of my brother’s recent cancer diagnosis and the journey ahead. Though we wouldn’t trade the time together, how we wish it were spurred by different circumstances. A good time together, but way different than the one we had anticipated.
And away from home
Having spent more than 20 of my last almost 30 days out of state, the Christmas decor has been quite minimal this year. Maybe not by the standards of most, but for us, it’s been minimal. There aren’t quite as many lights, and nowhere near as many trees, but it’s still been magical. It’s good but different.
And then there’s this blessing of our kids navigating through the launching years as they’ve come to be known in our home. Two years ago, we gained a son as our daughter married her long-time sweetheart. This summer, our son will marry the girl he’s been proposing to for the past 8 years. While we couldn’t be more pleased with these two particular additions to our family, it comes with the understanding that there’s also more sharing involved. And this Christmas, our two oldest will be spending the holidays with their in-laws and almost in-laws as the case may be. Again, we’ve been beyond blessed with these two particular families now intertwined with ours. It’s so very good and altogether different.
It’s change at every level
Exactly one week after Christmas, Steve will be stepping into a new career after over 25 years in the same one. It’s a change we never anticipated a few years ago, but it’s precisely where God has led us for this season. It’s exciting and unknown and a little scary all wrapped up into one big package. It’s good and completely different.
Can I tell you the beauty of all of this? It’s rocked the world of this tradition-loving sentimental heart of mine. It’s been a sometimes gentle and other times loud as a tornado reminder that this favorite season of mine really isn’t about family and together and cozy. As much as I love each of these things and as much as they draw me to this season … they’re not the linchpin of Christmas. That’s an entirely different thing altogether.
It’s a gentle reminder of our foundation
It’s about Jesus and all that He gave up to put on flesh and walk this earth, all for the sake of our relationship with God. When it comes to a break in traditions, those we’re walking through right now pale in comparison to what He has done for us. It’s been a good reminder when pesky thoughts steeped in sadness or fear or “just plain too much” threaten to barge in and take hold of my heart.
It’s about Jesus. It’s an opportunity to be like Him. To choose joy in the good. To choose joy in this miniscule taste of the fellowship of His sufferings that don’t look a thing like how I would “prefer” to suffer. To choose joy in the changes.
It’s rocked my safe, tidy little idea of family Christmas traditions in ways that I could not have forseen or understood just two months ago. And as oddly unfamiliar as it all is, it’s also quite okay.
It’s good but different.