Linking up with Donna again and her challenge to "jump start" my blog by answering the following question: What is my favorite Christmas memory?
I have a few favorite memories of Christmastime. My grandmother's orange rolls that she always baked for Christmas eve. Oh, how I miss those. Or my mother baking cookies by the dozens while my sister and I covered shoe boxes with wrapping paper to put them in. We'd take the shoe boxes of cookies to elderly shut-ins whom my mother visited each week as part of her volunteer work with Meals on Wheels. Those are two of my favorite childhood memories.
As an adult, Christmas was different. I loved the year that I put my first Christmas tree up in my first home, still single and living alone at the time. I felt so independent and grown up that year! Waking up to Christmas morning in a quiet home all alone was much different than my Christmases are today, and I kinda miss that, but not too much.
One of my favorite Christmas memories was the year that a young man whom I'd met four months earlier came to visit me in my quiet little home. We'd struck up a relationship over those previous four months, writing emails at first, then phone calls every weekend. By the time December arrived, I was counting down the days until he'd be visiting. I'd spent hours thinking about the perfect gift for him; I wanted to give him something from the heart, and so, I drew him a picture of an Australian lyrebird, which we'd seen on our first birdwatching trip together, along with a photo I'd taken of the first sunset we'd watched together. Christmas Day came and went but my gift didn't arrive until December 28th, when I picked him up on a snowy afternoon at the airport. One year later, we were celebrating Christmas again, only this time, as husband and wife, but that first Christmas with him will probably always be my favorite Christmas.
As a married couple, we couldn't wait to share Christmas with our children someday. But when the children never came, Christmas again remained a quiet time in our little home, and the absence of a child to share it with was palpable. Instead, we opened our gifts with our little dog, Sage, who'd become our surrogate child. Oh, how Sage loved opening gifts! She would sniff around the tree and find the package that smelled like "snakkies", knowing that inside the wrapping were special bacon-flavored doggie treats just for her. Once said package was located, she would rip it apart with wild enthusiasm, tail wagging violently, wrapping paper shredded into hundreds of little pieces. It was so fun to watch and my husband and I would forget for a moment what we were mourning, and instead, laugh with joy over the happiness we'd found in this little stray pup that wanted nothing more than to be with us and to have a belly full of snakkies.
Having lived through nearly half a century now, I've seen a lot of Christmases, and Lord-willing, will see many more. Most I don't remember. Others, however, are etched into my memory in fine detail. There was the Christmas when I went to the doctor on December 28th and saw my little John on the ultrasound, kicking and moving. He is seven now and that moment when I first saw him will always be my greatest Christmas gift and I praised the Holy Innocents for interceding for us. But there is also the December 28th two years later when I returned to that same doctor, pregnant again, but this time with a much sadder prognosis. I prayed to the Holy Innocents to intercede for us again, and God replied by giving us another saint in heaven.
And then there was last year, again on December 28th, when Sage ran away during a freak thunderstorm. For the next three days, we combed the woods, walked up and down the hills, and stopped at surrounding homes, looking for her. She was old and feeble and I feared the worst. I prayed fervently to the Holy Innocents to watch over her and bring her back to us. "Please don't let it end this way," I'd prayed. After 15 years of having her as our "first kid", my husband and I couldn't bear the thought of not knowing what had happened to her. And then, in a miraculous turn of events, Sage showed up at a friend's house, miles from our home. How she found that particular house was beyond explanation. Again, through the intercession of the Holy Innocents, God had given us the perfect Christmas gift with the return of our beloved pet.
So, for now, those are my most vivid Christmas memories. Some are good, some not so good. There have been Christmases filled with joy and love and magic and huge blessings, and there have been Christmases filled with loss, pain and tears. But mostly, there have been Christmases that I can't remember. And perhaps really, those are the best ones. The ones that reflect the ordinariness of life, when nothing remarkable happened, other than remembering that on another ordinary, unremarkable day in Bethlehem, God chose to join us and is with us yet.
All you Holy Innocents, pray for us!
~Feast of the Holy Innocents~
October 2001 - June 2017
October 2001 - June 2017