Well it's almost Christmas and the little girl in me has been jumping up and down for weeks! I LOVE Christmas! There's just so much to love about it, the tree, the music, the yummy goodies you have an excuse to bake and yes, even the shopping is enjoyable (for the most part). Colby is not a fan of all the Christmas hoopla though so it does make for an interesting time. He absolutely hates Christmas music and can't stand the crowds in every store from the day after Thanksgiving until January. But he loves me lots and lots so he grits is teeth and bares through all of it. :o)
But as much as I love Christmas and Thanksgiving and all the holiday festivities there is always a touch of sadness to it. It's something I don't really talk about all that often but today it's pretty heavy on my mind so i'll allow myself to go there, only for a little while mind you and then it's back to all the joy of the season!
As a little girl Thanksgiving and Christmas were always pretty predictable. Our family, like most families, had traditions for both holidays. We always spent Thanksgiving at my Meme and Papa's house (my dad's parents in case you're wondering. :o) ) and had all the wonderful food that went with it. My Meme would make stuffing from a recipe that belongs to my great grandmother so you know it's good stuff and I would have my very own pan of it because I don't care for eggs. I would also have my own special pie every year. See I also don't like nuts but I loved pecan pie, I would just scrape the pecans off and eat all the yumminess under them. So my Meme started making me a pecan-less pecan pie! Sounds silly but it's oh so good! I was also teased mercilessly over beets each year. One year I thought they were cranberries and was sorely mistaken and my family never let me forget it! :o)
For Christmas, we always went to Hammon Oklahoma to see my great grandma. We would spend a few days there and it was always wonderful. My great grandma can cook better than anyone in this world and every one of her recipes consists of "a pinch of this" and "a dab of that" as most good recipes do. Her chocolate sheet cake is legendary in our family and she makes the best sausage gravy i've ever had! Every year she had tons of goodies made by the time we got there and most years they were all gone by the time we left. We always opened presents on Christmas Eve with all the Aunts, Uncles and cousins gathered around. After all the presents were opened we would do what every family does...wad up all the paper and have a wrapping paper fight of course! Doesn't your family do that? You should really try it sometime. It's simply awesome! My parents would always bring our stockings with us for Christmas morning so we'd have something to open when we first woke up since we weren't at home. Then most years we'd head home that afternoon and spend the evening doing our family Christmas together.
Both holidays have changed quite a bit since then. You see, my parents got divorced when I was 15 and since then both Thanksgiving and Christmas have never been the same. My last time I was in my great grandmothers house was the Christmas I was 13 because our family was quite a mess the next Christmas. I had no idea it would be the last Christmas i'd spend there. I wish I had known though, there's so much I would go back and do if i'd known. I would have walked all around her house more so I could remember every inch of it better. I would have stood in her kitchen longer watching her bake for her family and hanging on to all the wonderful laughter of all the family gathered around. I would say I would have eaten more of those yummy treats she made but i'm not sure I could have. :o) It's so hard to believe it's been 11 years since i've been to her house and had that "normal" Christmas.
And Thanksgiving changed quite a bit as well. I have actually not seen my dad on Thanksgiving since I was 14. My mother does still make me my own stuffing and pecan-less pecan pie every year so that part is the same. We do still have my great grandmother's stuffing every year and will probably always have that, just one of those recipe's that will be passed down. But to this day it's weird and very very hard not having my dad around on Thanksgiving. Hard to believe it's been 10 years since I spent that day with him. It's hard knowing he spends that day with another family and has made new traditions for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and sometimes that 14 year old girl that's still inside of me wishes I could go back to those days.
But just like my dad has built new traditions for these holidays, so have I. I guess that's just a part of life. You have to learn how to deal with the hard stuff and not let it ruin all the wonderful things. As hard as it is not spending Christmas at my great grandmothers house I still absolutely love Christmas. I love seeing my children's faces Christmas morning as they rush into the living room to start our morning.
I think that's why it's so important to remember why we celebrate these days. You see, Thanksgiving is not about the turkey and the stuffing. Although those are both wonderful and it would be very strange to have Thanksgiving without them, it's really about being thankful for everything we've been blessed with over the past year. It's about spending time with family laughing and building memories so that when things do change, you can still hold onto just a little bit of holidays past.
As for Christmas, we all know it's about celebrating Jesus' birthday. But it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day without stopping to focus on Him. So as much as I love the old traditions, and as much as I miss waking up at my great grandmother's house on Christmas morning, I can still celebrate the day and completely enjoy every minuet of it. The holidays aren't here just for our traditions and all the food that comes with the days, although there's nothing wrong with either of those things. They are here to celebrate Jesus, to remind us of everything He's done for us. We get so caught up in what gifts we're going to buy and what all we're getting and we forget that the very first Christmas wasn't about getting at all. Jesus gave up heaven and all it's glory to come to this earth for us and that's what this day is all about.
So this year I challenge you, and I challenge myself, to be extra mindful of why we celebrate Christmas. Find a new way to thank Jesus for what all He did and all He gave up. If that's a new tradition with your kids that's awesome. I heard of an idea of a Jesus stocking. For the whole month of December you write down everything you do for Jesus and put it in the stocking. Then as a family you read what everyone's done for Jesus that month before you start on each others gifts. So whatever you do, take some extra time and effort to put the focus back on Him. After all, Jesus is the reson for the season. It's such an old saying but something worth remembering. Merry Christmas everyone!