Lists are made. Presents are bought and now await the wrapping frenzy. Meal plans include "Eva's Mashed Potatoes" and "Ethan's Jello Salad." Christmas is coming.
Driving to work one winter morning I ponder the Christmases now past and my mind struggles with the meaning of this one?this particular year. It's not a baby's first Christmas at our house. No special guests are coming. Y2K is about to end, leaving us with Y-Who-Cares? What might God have in mind for us this year? How will his long-ago nativity demonstrate itself in my rather mundane days? How do I keep Christmas sacred and not just another event on our family calendar?
As I reel through the memories of past Christmases, I giggle at the mental picture of 2-year-old Ethan adorned in a cap of cotton balls: his sheep costume for the Sunday-school nativity play. I recall Eva's pride at the creation of her first birthday cake for Jesus, her grin decorated with icing stolen from her work. I replay a hide-and-seek hunt for a Christmas gift from my husband culminating at the freezer and a tiny jewelry box containing a different kind of "ice."
There was the time we gathered with dear friends in Florida, far away from Denver, only to brave a surprise cold spell which knocked out all the electricity and forced us to cook the turkey in 30-minute cycles. I think of the year I had the flu and was forced to give up "making Christmas perfect" and settle for just "making it through." Sadly, my mind turns to a Christmas Day phone call from my mother telling me her cancer had returned.
In the midst of these memories I am struck by something: Despite the simplicity of these images, each one represents the sacredness of the season. Each year, Jesus' coming has been tangible, sometimes whimsical and full of childlike celebration; at other times, tender and still other times, almost silent, but undeniably real.
This year will be the same. I count the few Christmases we have left as a family with children under our roof. Two more with Eva. Five with Ethan. How many more with Grandma?the only grandparent now remaining? I've watched my friends navigate this weird transition of familydom and I know the unpredictability it promises. And yet if the past tells me anything, it's that these seasons to come will also be full of the promise of Christ.
" ? his mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51). Luke's description of Mary's ponderings nudged itself into my brain. Just after searching Jerusalem for her "missing" child who was actually exactly where God wanted him to be, Luke records the perspective of a wise mother making sense of the past, the present and the future.
As I steer off the highway at my exit, I make a vow to treasure this season. Yes, I'll remember the past. I'll make room for new memories in the present. But I'll also pay attention to this year, this season, and turn my eyes and my heart to the sacredness of Jesus' advent?his presence year after year in my family and my world.
Elisa Morgan is president of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Her most recent book is When Husband & Wife Become Mom and Dad, with Carol Kuykendall (Zondervan). For information about a mops group in your area, call (800) 929-1287.
NOTE: For your convenience, the following product, which was mentioned above, is available for purchase:
- When Husband & Wife Become Mom and Dad, Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall
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