In previous years, I would become so stressed out during December with all the hustle of Christmas and I longed for a simple kind of Christmas..only to keep getting caught up in the whirl wind of various traditions and trying to keep up with everyone else around us. This year it seemed the Spirit of Christmas had halted all that hustling for us. The initial home we were looking at getting ended up being a transaction from Hades and we needed to pull out. Word to the wise… research property management companies before getting involved with them. it’s all hindsight for us now, but we are thankful we got out when we did. Nevertheless, we had to go back and do more house hunting. So instead of racing to the stores to buy gifts and wrapping paper, we headed to the airport to spend the holidays with TSA and delayed flights. Instead of enjoying home baked treats, we enjoyed peanuts and chips with a small plastic cup of diet soda. Rather than watching the traditional holiday flicks with the kids, we were watching reruns of Seinfeld on the airplane.
We arrived in So Cal to meet up with my husband’s folks and drove directly to view some open houses and meet with Realtors, sign more papers, yadda yadda yadda. There was no time to buy toys when we were focusing on buying a home. We knew that this Christmas would be small since we were pouring all of our resources into a relocation for the entire family and our children have been super appreciative and thankful even though it meant a very limited pile of gifts under the tree this year.
Amazingly enough, we got a lot accomplished in the 4 days before Christmas and flew home with the hope that this would be the one home we get. If you’ve ever bought a home you will know it takes a while for all the pieces to fall into place and here we are the day after Christmas and still waiting on the final word. We spent Christmas in the living room with our children unwrapping hand made gifts that the children made for us while we were gone. Monica made the ladies some jewelry and Jessica created imaginative hunts with clues and cool little gifts made from the most unusual things. Not only were we surrounding the tree as a family, but surrounding us on all sides was the contents of our home packed in cardboard boxes waiting to be loaded into a moving truck.
We decided that we would have a belated Christmas meal with my husband’s parents once we get moved so we settled on a precooked ham log with canned yams and boxed potatoes for dinner last night. We didn’t send out cards, we didn’t call anyone, we didn’t attend any Christmas parties or gift exchanges…we actually got that simple kind of Christmas I had longed for in previous years and it was quite relaxing. This smaller Christmas was needed for all of us.
On Christmas Eve, I surprised myself with a tradition we had stopped a couple of years ago…the traditional Candle light service with a local congregation. We had made friends with a small congregation over the last year. Monica accompanied me while the rest of the family hung out at home. It was a very last minute decision. I don’t mean to knock this little church, as they were very kind and open to us that evening, but I do not miss sitting in wooden pews and no matter how much padding goes onto those things, they are incredibly uncomfortable. But the sanctuary was beautifully decorated and the staff gave a beautiful presentation of the Christmas story and we sang some traditional Christmas hymns. I was encouraged to hear the pastor place the utmost importance on the love of God. Too many times in the past I had heard condemnation from various churches with barely a hint of speaking of God’s love, yet this pastor made God’s love paramount in his Christmas presentation. And as usual, no matter what is said in a message that was carefully and prayerfully planned, it was the lyrics to a song that spoke to me most. For some reason it’s always been the songs that move me the most in a church service. This is not meant to minimize the preparation that went into the evening, rather it’s to reveal the importance of us listening to the Spirit of Christmas over all.
As I sang one of the songs it was the words ‘peace and calm’ that hit me. The Spirit was hushing my anxious heart that has been so burdened about this move and for that moment he met me in that pew and calmed me. The tears flowed. It was nice to visit with the pastor and other folks that night. We thanked them for the service and headed home. I made home made hot cocoa topped with whipped cream then went out for our annual tour of lights drive to enjoy the brightly lit homes in our neighborhood. We sang together and “oooed and awed” at the colorful displays then came back home to settle in for the night. If it wasn’t for Jessica, we wouldn’t even have our tree up. She set up the tree and hung the stockings while we were gone house hunting. She set out the cookies she baked for Santa and we all headed to bed.
Even though the annual War over Christmas raged in the media and in cyberspace, we settled into the true meaning of Christmas for ourselves which is, family. Regardless of whether people celebrate Christ as the pillar of their Christmas or not, the tradition of Christmas brings family together and we certainly felt the calling in our hearts to gather in tightly with each other within our own home and that was what we needed most.
We continue to wait for the call about the home in So Cal and look forward to a new year in 2012 as a family in a new community. And with that, I am excited about a new direction for my blog and I ask your patience with me as I look for a new layout and decor. I’m pouring all of my energy into the move.
Bless you all as you head into the new year.