Large white flakes swirled and spun and painted the landscape a beautiful winter white. It started falling early on Saturday. The snow was supposed to be light – probably just flurries – maybe a little accumulation on grassy areas. Instead, it soon turned into a winter wonderland. Or, as I posted with a photo on Facebook – “Narnia, OK.” What made it even better was, our family had chosen Saturday to get together and celebrate Christmas. It was a beautiful snowfall. The weather had been warm for December the previous few days, so the roads were drivable. We had a beautiful white Christmas, and we were still able to get together with family.
Family dynamics do change when your children grow up. Our daughter, Sarah, with her family, in El Paso, would not be able to make the trip to Oklahoma at all this holiday season. Neither would our oldest grandson, Joshua. Our son, Tim, in Missouri, with his family, would not be here until Saturday. So we told our other two, Adam and Elise, to enjoy Christmas Day with their own families however they wanted. They all have small children, and we remember the delight of watching our children on Christmas morning in our own home. Besides, there is enough pressure around the holiday season without the added pressure of feeling like you have to load up food, presents, and children to be somewhere to please someone else. Christmas day, on Thursday, was a quiet day at home for Trish and me. But it was the weekend with family that made this one of the best Christmases ever.
Tim and most of his family, drove in Friday evening. Some of them stayed at my Mom’s house, where we would gather on Saturday. Granddaughter, Alisha, and her new husband stayed at Elise’s house. Grandson, Daniel, has fond memories of waking at Nana’s house to the smells of breakfast cooking and the sounds of music. We have two spare bedrooms now, he and his girlfriend each had a room at our house.
Saturday’s Christmas gathering was mostly typical for us. We started a little later by not all trying to make it to Grandma’s for breakfast. Instead each household did breakfast on our own. We got together at Grandma’s after breakfast, shared gifts, then ate lunch, and just hung out together. The older grandchildren went out for a snowball fight and built a snowman. Then we shifted from Christmas mode, and went to Adam’s house for his three-year-old’s birthday party. All-in-all, it was just a nice day.
Whenever your family asks what you would like for birthday or Christmas, there’s always “stuff” you could use. There are probably some things you might like to have, but wouldn’t necessarily just go out and buy. I’m like that. Problem is, stuff just doesn’t mean that much to me. What I really enjoy about Christmas is watching my family enjoy being with and interacting with each other. I enjoy seeing their joy. However, there is one thing I have longed for but never wanted to impose on my family. We used to sing together mainly as part of getting together with other Christians for home church. I would love to just sit and worship the Lord together. I just wanted the idea to come from them, to be something they wanted.
Sunday, Tim’s family was planning to head back to Missouri around noon. They planned to come to our house for breakfast. Tim had given me new guitar strings for Christmas. I got up early Sunday and restrung my guitar, and sang for awhile. Trish and I had breakfast with Daniel and Kaitlyn, and had just finished when the rest of Tim’s family arrived. Adam and his crew came to visit, too. I was back in the den tweaking the tuning on the new strings.
As the family finished eating and filtered into the den, we began talking about what God’s been showing us, and about songs. We sang a few together, and it was truly sweet. To me, that’s what made this one of the best Christmases ever. Having the whole clan here would have made it even better.
But there was one more thing. One of the songs we sang, written by our friend, Dennis Jernigan, says:
I will run to the arms of my Father
Like a lost child gladly found!
Run with joy to the arms of my Father
As He lifts me from the ground!
And He throws me high and He catches me
Like He can’t get enough!
And He laughs with me!
And the look in His eye!
The look in His eye!
He just loves me!
Sunday night I had a dream. I was standing in front of God.. It wasn’t a clear image of Him, but it was God, and we were happy together. He picked me up and tossed me in the air like a father and child. I remember thinking, I’m a grown man, and here I am in the air, looking down, and free-falling. Then what vague physical image I had of God faded away altogether as I was falling toward the ground. There was a brief flash of “that’s not good.” That was immediately followed by, “It’s okay. It’s God. I don’t have to worry. He’ll still catch me. I can trust Him.” Then I felt His hands catch me, and we laughed together. And I thought, “That’s what faith is.”
Now that’s a nice ending to Christmas.