It’s my favorite holiday. Life becomes really hectic, but I love the traditions and the connection of family.
I was decorating this past weekend in preparation for our staff open house we host each year. In a matter of a couple of days, our home is transformed into all things Christmas! Sometimes I feel the stress and pressure.
This year I was feeling old.
That’s really the only way I can describe it. My oldest is in college and home for the holiday. I have a teenager and another that isn’t, but sure seems like it. I don’t have the little littles running around anymore. The memories are running like a movie through my heart.
As I was working with my smaller artificial trees that light up our office, the branches were looking tired and drooping kind of low. I realized I have been using these trees for 11 years, at least. No wonder they are looking a little tired.
That’s pretty good…artificial trees being used for that many years! Especially after all our moves! But, that served to make me feel OLD.
This all combined to make me feel like a middle-aged frump. Now, I know you are trying to figure out how I made that jump. I’m not sure…maybe it’s hormones. But, I began to realize, many of my decorations and collections I have had for or started 25 years ago—some ornaments, longer than that. My one tree only holds the beautiful ornaments from my childhood. When you are newly married or a young momma, you don’t always think about such things. But, alas, I am neither.
So, as I am surrounded by so much history and memories I have to stop and think. And remember.
Christmas has always been such a big focus for us.
We love this season passionately. Just ask anyone who has helped us move over the years. Friends tease me each November about the many Christmas boxes I have and the work that means for my guys. I can’t help that we love Christmas! Each one is different. But, each have been special.
Some Christmases were during times of waiting for dreams to come to pass. Some years were leaner than others. There were a few where the stress got the better of me. After a while, though, I learned how to set the boundaries I needed in order to make the holidays the best I could for my family and me.
Most have been years full of blessing and joy.
Over the years, I have learned a beautiful rhythm. It requires flexibility and letting go of the “perfect shiny ideal” of what Christmas should look like. Each year there is an underlying rhythm that guides our holiday, yet, they are different and beautifully unique. However, we do keep some constants with our traditions.
Christmastime is an amazing opportunity for traditions. Our traditions are important for keeping each other connected. Traditions are not chaos-inducing schedule fillers. Children need them for a touchstone. Ours aren’t incredibly elaborate, just constant. So many chances for making memories!
The last two or three years I have endeavored to add in a focus on Advent. Keeping Jesus as the focus isn’t our problem, He is the centrality of our holiday. But, sometimes it is challenging gathering everyone together at the same time to stop and sit for a while. But, yesterday’s focus for this Advent season was hope. I began to think about the power of hope in life and the holidays.
I have had seasons of life where I lost hope. Lost hope that things would get better or ever turn around for good. Following my firstborn’s birth I struggled with postpartum depression. We had very little money and times were difficult. My hope meter was rather low. Just a few years ago, we were facing insurmountable odds and it seemed our enemies far outnumbered our friends. My hope quickly dwindled.
I am convinced we can face anything if we hold on to hope.
Hope doesn’t come from our circumstances or our finances. Hope comes from our belief that Christ has our back and will not leave us or forsake us. We are able to keep an eternal perspective in mind. When challenges are bombarding us, if we keep an eternal focus, we can hold on to hope. Without hope, people perish. He came that day so long ago to bring us hope.
HE is our HOPE.
This blog post has been a challenge to get published this week. Whew! The holidays, decorating, doctor’s appointments, homeschooling, oh my! I missed my personal deadline for getting this posted. We all have high demands on our time during the holidays. But, I decided to offer myself some grace and knew you’d understand and probably can relate to the hustling and bustling!
It’s a busy, but hope-filled season in our home.
The years have come and gone so fast.
My firstborn is now a Sophomore in college and my others are quickly growing up.
My Christmas collections and ornaments are getting older by the year.
I decided the other day, I can either get really sad as I’m feeling older, or I can focus on the fact that really I’m not and there is so much life and hope in my future. Sure, my babies aren’t tiny littles anymore (and oh, how I loved those stages and what Christmas looked like then), but life rolls in stages.
And, this stage is stunningly beautiful. It has been hand-crafted by God for me and mine. Such beautiful hope lives in that!
Take a few minutes to sit down, light some sparkling candles, drink something comforting and warm, and reflect on the goodness you have experienced and set your sights on the HOPE of a beautiful tomorrow!