As a child, I could smell the cranberry muffins, sausage balls, and pumpkin bread before I even opened my eyes. The anticipation and excitement I felt on Christmas Eve was never enough to keep me awake through the night, but the smell of Mom’s Christmas breakfast jolted my senses and my feet hit the ground running! Not far though…I had to stop before the carpeted floor turned to slate in the foyer of our split-level home. Permission had to be granted to pass, lest we see the biggest, unwrapped presents that Santa had brought before everyone was ready.
I was always amazed at how early my relatives arrived. They had a 45-minute drive across town and still got there by 6:30 am. Grandma was there, along with Uncle James and Aunt Sandra. Anticipation would continue to build, by design I’m sure, as everyone took time to fill their plates and get their mugs of coffee ready. Then slowly the adults would meander down the last seven steps to the den. Finally, after an eternity of getting cameras ready to record the moment and making sure everything was in its place, the gates would open and we kids would fly down the stairs to see what wondrous, life-changing gifts were awaiting us around the tree.
Now that I think of it, there are very few of those gifts that I remember today. Perhaps the bicycle I got when I was seven that I rode in the cold Virginia December until my hands were frozen by the time I got back to the house, or the Lego spaceship set that took me all morning to build. Other than that, I really don’t remember the gifts.
I remember the love.
I remember the laughter.
I remember that we were together.
Then I remember that I’ll never be in that room again, and tears well up in my eyes. Mom and Grandma are in Heaven now, with Grandaddy, Granny, and Grandpa. The rest of us live in three different states, and even before the Coronavirus, it was hard to get together.
“They taught me that the joy of Christmas is based on something…some ONE who is eternal and everlasting.”
Christmas brings bittersweet memories of the joys of the past, of places and people who were such an integral part of the warmth of those moments, but are no longer with us.
Then I remember THE gift. The one whom we celebrate at Christmas. I had a mother and a family who taught me what Christmas was truly about. They placed my hopes for the joy of Christmas in something that wasn’t as fleeting as a house, a meal, a present, or even THEIR presence. They taught me that the joy of Christmas is based on something…some ONE who is eternal and everlasting.
Immanuel. God WITH us.
My mourning turns to gratitude to the one who is always with me and will never leave me or forsake me, and I refocus on my hopes for my children. I hope they experience the joy I did. I hope they know how much they are loved by their family. I hope they learn how fulfilling it can be to not only receive a gift, but to give to another. I hope our home is filled with images of family, decorations, and smells that overwhelm their senses and lock in the memories of these precious years. Most of all, I hope they remember the real reason behind all of it. The eternal gift who was given once and can never be taken away.
- Come experience one of our Christmas Eve candlelight services as we remember the birth of Jesus with music, a message, and fun. Whether you join us in person or online, Christmas at Seacoast will be a celebration you don’t want to miss.
Be a part of making our Christmas services happen by serving at your campus.