May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me preface this devotional by saying, this is probably the hardest devotional that I will write during my time at First Pres. This is my first Christmas without both of my grandmothers. I lost my Grandma Bo and Grandma Jo within six months of each other this year. Grandma Bo’s death was somewhat expected, she had been deteriorating for a few years and so I had time to prepare myself somewhat for her loss. But for those of you who know me, you know that my Grandma Jo’s death came rather quickly and very unexpectedly. It seems like one minute we were celebrating the Fourth of July and a month later, she ends up in the hospital twice. She passed away two weeks after my son Timothy was born. So needless to say the past four months have been extremely difficult for me and my family. When it came time to think about Christmas, part of me just wanted to skip over it. But then my mom reminded me that Grandma Jo wouldn’t want it that way. She LOVED Christmas! So join me in my time capsule as we go back in time to a joyous Christmas where my grandparents were gathered round the Christmas tree and laughter filled the air.
The year was 1991. My parents had spent the past year building their “dream home.” We had looked at several homes, even had a contract on one or two when they finally decided they would build the exact home they were looking for. To my excitement, the lot that they purchased was in the same neighborhood as Grandma Jo and Pap Pap Frank, just up the hill from them. My Grandma Jo and I have always been close, going on shopping adventures since I was little and spending a good majority of our time together or talking on the phone. She was one of my most favorite people.
So here we were on Christmas Eve. My parents really wanted us to wake up on Christmas morning in our new home. So after the Christmas Eve services at First Pres., we spent the night in our new home – nestled in our sleeping bags. My mom had brought a Christmas tree home from work because no one would be there during the two week Christmas break, so we had a live tree decorated for Christmas.
I remember waking up that morning, not sure if we would even have any presents. I can’t quite recall my relationship with Santa at that time, but I was wondering if the presents would make it to the new house. But coming down the stairs in our brand new home on Christmas morning, I could hear my grandparents talking in the family room. Grandma Jo, Pap Pap Frank, and Grandma Bo were all there like they had always been to watch us open our presents that morning. My brother was only four at the time, so Christmas was still very real and special to him. I recall telling him that I really thought I heard Santa’s bells last night on our roof.
Just last week, I reminded my dad that because we had “moved in” so quickly, not everything was complete. I remember my Grandfather pouring his coffee down the kitchen sink, but all of the pipes weren’t connected, so it just made a big mess. Opps!
All through my life, Christmas and family go hand and hand. I have always been home for Christmas. I have always been with my mom, dad, brother and grandparents for Christmas. That’s probably why this one will be a bit harder. But even though there are tears, there is laughter and joy as well. We now have two little ones to celebrate Christmas with. We also decided that we would start a new tradition this year, and instead of mom and dad hosting Christmas – my family would come to our home this year. It’s time for new memories, new sights, new sounds, new traditions, but still telling the stories of Christmases past.
I know that Christmas can be a very difficult time of year. It can bring up past hurts, losses, heartache, and disappointments. But we must try to keep our focus on that little baby in the manger. He is the greatest gift you will ever receive and our everlasting joy. How have you helped others through this difficult time of year? Sometimes a simple phone call, hug, or note can go a long ways. Don’t forget to reach out to those who might be hurting this time of year.
Father God, Christmas can be a difficult time. We pray Lord that You will fill our hearts with hope, joy, and peace. Help us to focus on the gift of Your son Jesus Christ. Help us love others, reach out to those who may be hurting, and be thankful for the memories that we have. Thank you Lord for You gifts from above. Amen.
~ Amy McKee