T'was The Day After Christmas..

T'was The Day After Christmas100_9912 T'was the day after Christmas (at least at my house) Our bellies still full of cookies and grouse; The stockings, now empty, were thrown on the floor, With a half-eaten candy cane stuck to the door. Some children, still sleeping, at this stroke of one While others went shopping, hitting sales on the run. Yes, up before 7--it's shopping they went Seeking bargains. YES! Up to fifty percent! There's gift wrap and ribbon, tags and all kinds of doo-dads, The 'not-chosen' gifts that did not make this year's fads. "I'll stock up for next year! Yes, that's what I'll get!" I said as I stacked my cart full at Target. "My shopping will be done, I won't have to scurry Or go to the mall in that mad, insane flurry. Yes! I can be finished! In June if I'm lucky! And all will envy me!" (Won't THAT be just ducky?) But then I paused, my face froze in mid-grin; Had Christmas become just a battle to win? Something to be conquered; a contest? a goal? A competition for biggest and brightest of all? And what about Jesus? What would He say About the way we act around His birthday? Yes, we remember Him before that big day But after--how quickly we all turn away. "Thank goodness it's over!" "We've put on quite a show!" Then we all hunker down and wait for the snow. The rat race continues, empty faces return, Folks with no hope, no Jesus still haven't learned To seek His face daily, yes, each day of the year. Just ask Him in and He will draw near. We need to live it like we believe And not only show it on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve -- 2012

100_9914 I love and equally hate shopping. Before you think I'm completely oxymoronic-(the word isn't in my Webster's, but it ought to be)-let me explain. I love shopping at my leisure, poking in little shops, being delighted with a perfect gift for a beloved friend or family member. I dislike crowds and 'shopping for the sake of shopping', as it were.

I have to go out to the store today, right past the mall, which will be so insanely busy it will make my head spin. Traffic will be horrendous. I loathe going shopping on Christmas Eve, more than hitting the stores on black Friday.

Why am I venturing out on this so-hated day of shopping, you may very well ask?

Quite simply, because my son needs clothes while he's here, visiting.

Sigh.

You see, I'm one of those people who have all of their shopping done by...say, June. This tradition started when my son was small, and I simply couldn't afford to shell out a large amount of money at the end of the year. So, I would be on the lookout for unique, interesting items all the year through. This year was no different.

However...

My son is coming home for Christmas; he will arrive late afternoon on Christmas Eve (for his quick 36 hour visit), and he has casually informed me he is not checking a bag and won't be bringing many clothes with him--hence the last minute shopping trip.

We'll do almost anything for our kids, won't we? That sounds like another Parent I know.

A Parent we are told to cry "Abba Father!" to...(Romans 8:15 (NIV) (A Parent some of my friends call "Papa".) A Parent Who gave His only Begotten Son to die for my sins...(John 3:16 (NIV)

Christmas Eve has always stood out for me as the time to ponder with Mary, Jesus' mother, the miraculous birth--the Reason for this season. I doubt if I will see much of that in the crowds today.

But I do know, as I do this for my son, my son will be grateful.

And my Father in Heaven will see, and be pleased.

Make a point to ponder His birth this Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas!

What Does Your Jesus Look Like?

I remember this baby Jesus from my childhood. The rest of the Nativity scene is long gone, but I still have this baby Jesus. (This could be a post all on its own. But I digress...)100_9898 As a child, I remember asking my mother, "What happened to Jesus' face?"

Growing up in a non-Christian home, my inquiry was met with a vague,"I don't know.", "Don't bother me now.", or the old standby, silence.

Christmas was something we "did", not something we celebrated. We had to buy presents, because it was expected, even though we lived in terrible debt all year. We had to send cards, especially to those who sent us one--(we had a little book to keep track of such things). We had so many have to's, that I have a difficult time remembering happy times as a child.

But just over 26 years ago, I met Jesus.

My son is a first generation growing up in a Christian home. And he, like any small child, asked, "What happened to Jesus' face?" 100_9900

As an artist, I can appreciate the skill that went into creating this piece. The carving of the basket of Jesus' bed, the hay under Him; the finer details are lost but the art piece must have been fine in its day. It dates back before the 1940's. It's not plastic, or resin. It's made of a plaster-like product, but not as heavy. It's chipped, and a little dirty, for it's been handled over and over. 100_9899

"What happened to Jesus' face?" my son had asked again.

I smiled.

I told him, "I believe it's been kissed off."

Traditions Worth Keeping

I bought this Advent calendar when my son was little. The traditions I had of my family's holidays were filled with yelling, cursing and many alcoholic drinks, not something I wanted to pass on.As I was a first generation Christian, I was new at this and had no family to go to; I had to pick the traditions that

a) made the most sense for my son to understand, b) were affordable and doable with our limited time and resources and

c) would be remembered, as he has Attention Deficit Disorder and doesn't remember alot of details, especially of when he was little.

The ornaments on the tree are all magnets and he took great pleasure in placing them on the tree before bed each night. He got to pick which ornament would be placed where on the tree, and it helped him wait and count the days, so I didn't have to answer the endless questions of "When? When?"

This year was his first year he was not home for Christmas, due to his job and limited funds for airfare. I sent him a small Christmas tree and a tiny Nativity for his apartment; the Advent calendar stayed here. I had the pleasure of placing the ornaments on the tree and remembering.....

Yes, a tradition worth keeping.

Christmas RUSH -- Only 4 Days Left!

Are you pulling your hair out yet? Are you checking off items from your to-do list? Is your credit card about ready to melt from all of the activity it's seen? Have you fallen into the retailer's trap of, "Oh, don't forget about So-&-So's gift!" Or the ever popular, "Do we have enough? Better to have too much than not enough!" No, we want to be the ones with the seemingly endless larder; the "hostess-with-the-mostess" or "You can always count on the (insert-name-here) to put on a great showing".

How often do we spent so much time rushing about, with our arms full, checking and rechecking every last detail, until it all becomes too much and we simply collapse in the chair? We run ourselves ragged, with all our doing and doing.

When do we take the time to just be?

To just be in fellowship with friends we pass by quickly?

To just be sitting next to our spouse, watching a silly Christmas movie we've seen at least once every year?

To just be quiet, with God, His book open in our lap.

To just be?

To accept His Grace, His Son, His Gift to each and every one of us?

God cannot pour His Riches of His Presence into hands already full.

Christmas Card Blessings

I recieved a Christmas card today from an old friend who never misses a year. We attended her church from 1990 until 1996 and she has been faithful in sending a Christmas card to us since the beginning of that time. This year's really touched me and I'd like to share it with you--

"I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him." --Ephesians 1:17

The Older I Get... the simpler my holiday preparations become... the closer I feel to old friends as I write my Christmas cards... the more I cherish the oldest ornaments... the more fondly I remember Christmases past... the longer I hold on to a holiday hug... the more I realize Christmas is a matter of the heart... the tighter my throat gets when I sing "Silent Night"... the more I enjoy giving than recieving... the more I try to see Christmas through the eyes of a child... the longer I sit at night in the glow of the Christmas tree... the more wonderously beautiful the Christmas story is... the deeper my awe at God's infinite love... the more I love Christmas!

My wish for you, dear reader, is that you are able to take a moment in your busy holiday schedule, to reflect on the meaning of Christmas in your own heart. For unto us a child was born, a Saviour was given!