It's 4:00 AM on Christmas morning, and I'm awake as can be. The last of the in-laws left at 1:00 AM, so it's pretty impressive that this sleepy-head is up, right?
I'm certainly not an early riser, and no, I'm not up this early because it's Christmas and I can't wait to open presents. 4:00 AM finds me wide awake, because I drank two cups of Aunt Ruth Anne's lethal coffee and… well, I thought caffeine didn't affect me, but here I am; I have yet to fall asleep!
Since I'm still awake, and all the sheep in the world have been counted twice, I decided to stop trying so hard, and got to thinking. Just some thoughts about Christmas in general, and this Christmas in particular.
I love Christmas time. I love the Christmas story; the Reason for the spirit of giving, sharing, loving, that seems to take hold of us this time of year. I love Christmas carols, and Christmas traditions, especially when they involve spending time with family, and reaching out and blessing those less fortunate.
But this Christmas season has been different than any I remember, in that it seems there are lots of people near me who are finding the holidays bittersweet- a time of tears, loss and goodbyes, rather than joy and celebration.
My dear aunt and her family are experiencing their first Christmas without Uncle Dave, their beloved husband and Dad. Several other families, people I know and love, have recently lost a loved one, others are facing the possibility of the same.
Everywhere I look, it seems I can see heartache and tears. Broken homes, broken families, broken hearts, seems to be the theme of this Christmas for so many around me.
I shed some tears of my own, just yesterday, on hearing that our dear Grandmother's health is declining faster than we had expected. I looked to Hubby for some pity. (Yes, pity. Apparently the pity I was feeling for myself wasn't enough.🙄)
"Honey, why?" I asked him. "Why does God have such weird timing? Why Christmas time? What if she doesn't get to meet our baby?" Always realistic and practical, he simply reminded me that I had 3 of my grandparents, well into my twenties, and that all three of them got to meet and hold Anna Grace. (Sweet Grandmother Grace went to see Jesus when our little miss was just 12 weeks old.)
I then remembered that his grandparents, all but one, passed away before we were married, and that only one of them was able to meet his child; and realized that I have been extremely blessed to have my grandparents, such a part of my life, and in such good health, for so long.
Whatever God's plan is for Grandmother, I know He will be with her, and all of us; and I know His plan is perfect.
Looking at the deep pain and grief that this Christmas season holds for others around me, I hate to even admit that I've been guilty of whining a bit… (OK, maybe a lot,) about the fact that Christmas is here and our baby still isn't. But once again I was reminded, this time by my sister- that I have much to be thankful for.
" Be glad" she said, "that when the baby does come, you don't have to ride a donkey to the clinic!" Hmmm… true.
(As I ask the Lord to forgive my petty, ungrateful self, and start to count my blessings instead of listing my complaints, I feel His peace and I know that there can still be joy in Christmas.)
I don't know what you might be facing this Christmas, but I do know this. Our God is bigger than all of it! His love is greater than any of us can fathom. His "Christmas present" to the world, that baby born in Bethlehem, is the solution to all the problems, and the cure for every pain you face.
"Joy to the world" is still possible, when we stop confusing joy and happiness. And "Peace on earth" can be reality when we place our trust in the Prince of Peace, rather than circumstances.
Perhaps God sends heartache at Christmas time, because He knows that in the Spirit of Christmas, we are more likely to reach out and show love to those hurting around us. And in that case, perhaps we should keep Christmas in our hearts all year.
All Year Long
Jesus, help me keep the peaceful Christmas spirit all year long,
When the holidays are over, and the joyous Christmas songs.
Let me show Your loving-kindness, and Your mercy, Lord, I pray,
Reaching out a helping hand to those I meet along life's way.
Guide me, let me glorify You, in the things I say and do,
So that all who come to know me, see Your beauty shining through.
When the holidays are over, with the joyous Christmas songs,
Jesus, help me keep the peaceful Christmas spirit all year long.
Whatever your Christmas holds, may you find your true joy and peace in Jesus, and remember that Christmas doesn't end in December. Christmas can live in your heart for always.
It's 7:00 AM, Christmas morning. The eastern sky is tinged with pink, and I am still awake. I could have used some sleep, but I am blessed. Blessed in many ways, but most of all, because of Jesus. Because of Christmas.
A joyous Christmas to you all.