Just got back from two wonderful family gatherings. First one was this afternoon with my husband's family. Then we went on to my brother's house for my family's gathering. It was really special to be with family.
Yet...I'm sad tonight. This is our first Christmas without Mom. It leaves me feeling lonely for not only her but for the home anchor she was. I feel sort of displaced this year. Like Christmas is just sort of thrown together...in a way. We're down in Phoenix staying at my one brother's house while he and his family are out of state visiting his in-laws. My dad was also unable to come tonight because of multiple health issues going on in his family. I guess I just feel like the anchor is missing. That anchor must have been Mom and her home. I don't know if men get this. In general, MOM is always home to a woman.
I know that the REAL meaning of Christmas is the amazing birth of Jesus which brought God Himself to earth to walk among us for the ultimate purpose of His dying for our sins 33 years later, paying a debt He didn't owe because we carry a debt we cannot pay. The REAL anchor in my life is God. He is my real "home", moreso than my husband, my mom, my family, or any roots I put down here on this earth.
But, call it commercialism, nostalgia, or what-have-you, even as Christians who truly celebrate Christ's birth at Christmas, Christmas DOES mean more to us. Let's face it; Christmas means warm fuzzies. There are all manner of things that bring us the warm fuzzies during the Christmas season: Being with those we love. Family. Togetherness. Traditions. Roots. Beauty. Sentimentality. Nostalgia. Decorations. Special food. Special activities. Special music. Ornaments and little lights on trees. One of the things I love about it is that Christmas is artistic. Ornaments are little sculptures, little pieces of art. Decorations are artistic expressions chock full of beauty to be appreciated.
There is always the need to balance the warm fuzzies of Christmas with the deeper profound truths behind it. I find this year that I am unprepared in my heart for Christmas. I didn't prepare my heart to focus on and drink in the spiritual meaning of this holiday (holy-day). And the warm fuzzies are just all out of whack this year. Living the way we do, without children, we haven't developed any Christmas traditions of our own. Living off the grid in a still unfinished house means we have not done any real decorating for over 10 years. (It's just not the same having a Christmas tree with lights that you have to turn off whenever you leave the room in order to conservatively save your solar energy for more practical purposes.) Since we moved up north, we always came down and stayed at Mom's for Christmas. Her house has always been a home to me. SHE has always been home to me, aside from and in addition to the "home" that my husband and the rest of my family are to me. This year, my "home" in Mom and in her house are not there. I miss her. I miss that piece of home in my heart.
I am so thankful for my husband and my extended family: my brothers and their families, my dad, my husband's family. It's just different this year. There's a hole in our family. Because Mom's gone, there's a hole in my Christmas. And I didn't do the mental, emotional and spiritual work that wisdom says I should have done to prepare for it.
As far as our family celebrations and gatherings go, our "Christmas" is over already. Yet I sit here this Christmas Eve night, recognizing that it's not too late. Christmas is not over. Christmas Day is tomorrow. Though this will be the first Christmas Day we have no plans and the first Christmas Day I've ever spent apart from family, I can still set my focus on savoring the most important things about Christmas. Though too-brief times with family are now, this night, passed, I can savor the deep blessing that my family is. My husband and I can savor belonging to and being "home" to each other. I can choose to focus on the deep blessing of Christ's coming to earth to be with us. I can set my heart to savoring His love and the "home" that He is to me. Talk about an anchor! There is no other as strong, as true, and as perfect.
" 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which translated means 'God with us.' " (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus is Immanuel.
Jesus is GOD, with us.
That always blows me away.