The lawnmower is tucked away for the season and the last leaves have fallen from the trees. As the days shrink, the shadows grow longer. The cold rudely barges its way south as we are forced inside. I peek out from behind the curtains wondering how long the unwelcome intruder plans on staying. Before I know it, I am assaulted by winter and his minions frostbite and wind-chill. As I am held hostage inside, thinking the siege will never end, the hope of the holidays are upon us. What should be like the Calvary coming to save me from despair, feels more like a reinforcing army coming to prolong the siege. Something has to change.
For too many years the stress and busyness of this time of year, took the life out of the Christmas celebration it should have been. What should have been joyous memory-making was often just another task or chore. Get the decorations out, rearrange the furniture, get the Christmas tree, plan all the gathers, get the gifts, make meals, etc. You get the drift. Work!
As I reflect on years gone by, a change is coming over me. This year, our family is grown and many of them have left the nest. It is getting tougher to get us all together at once, and there is already sharing of holidays and splitting time with the kids’ significant others. Soon enough, they will have their own families and priorities. Because I can see that the time is short, it brings into focus what is truly important.
Time marches on to its ever quickening pace and through it, it becomes the great reveal-er. I have grown to appreciate the raising of our children more because time has a way of removing the chaff of challenging times and only leaving only the memories of great times. The times I took for granted when they were younger are now treasured moments and those memories are more valuable than gold. “Stuff” doesn’t matter anymore and “ambitions” take a back seat. What truly is important has revealed itself. Friends and family bring depth and richness to our lives and the other “stuff” brings width and shallowness. If you spend all of your time going wide, you do it at the expense of going deep.
The newest member of our family will be turning three in a few weeks. She has taught us a lot of these lessons in the short time we have had with her. She typifies the meaning of family, friendship and loyalty. She would rather spend time with us then do anything else – and I mean anything. She has no meaning of the concepts of gifts or the value of things. She lives for us. She is our beautiful German Shepard dog named Zayda.
Now dogs are not people, but we can certainly learn a few things from them. I know that our dog will live her whole life with us. This is it for her. She doesn’t care. She is happy, she is content. She loves when people comes over and it seems that other than playing fetch, laying at our feet, being close to us is her greatest joy.
What is inborn in dogs is something that we can all learn from. When you strip all of the hype of Christmas away, it is all about people and relationships. The Christmas story is about hope and redemption through the birth of Jesus. Through Jesus, we are brought into right relationship with God. He cares about you and me. He wants us to walk with Him. To know His nature you need to know Him, personally, as in a relationship.
Christmas is a celebration to bring us together. That gathering is reflective of us coming together with Christ. Just as God our Father wants us to fellowship with Him, I too just want to spend time with my kids. I want to love them, laugh with them, share memories with them, and to have them know that they are loved. I want them to have a firm foundation of that love so they will never substitute the stuff of what the world has to offer, for what is eternally theirs. .
Since the kids are grown, I know that I will never be able to spend the amount of time I want with them—in this lifetime anyway. So I will cherish each moment I do have with them. I know that we will be able to spend eternity together and that brings me even more comfort and peace. This Christmas, I am reminded that the times we have with friends and family are the true treasures in our lives. I plan to revel in that gift.
As I think about Christmas, I can smell the turkey roasting in oven. I can see the family gathering around the Christmas tree and exchanging gifts. I can hear the laughter and joy of the family as we open our gifts. I can taste the pumpkin pie as we settle in to play a family game. I can feel the dog at my feet as we relax at the end of the day.
Christmas always brings us together, and for that I am grateful.
Ah, yes . . . the siege has broken and winter and his cronies have lost their power. The skies have brightened and the sweet memories of Christmas are dancing in my head. May your Christmas be filled with the simply joys of those you love and memories of the people in your lives. May you never forget that you are loved more than you will ever know by your Creator as your light shines for all others to see.read more