Gifts of the Christmas holiday

During these two glorious weeks of quiet, down time,
I find myself
and again
“Thank you, Lord.”

With a little extra time,
and photographs of joy to share,
I thought I would take a moment to add to my list of
1,000 Gifts.

This year, I was able to begin my Christmas shopping back as early as August.
One by one, like a little field mouse, I tucked away gift after gift.

It was exciting to see the children open one little present after another,
presents that pleased them deeply.  These were practical gifts of warm snugly bedding,

music makers for bringing life to the morning (an iPod docking station/alarm clock) and clothing items wished for for weeks (wonderful, winter boots at a shocking sale price).  These were simple items  that brought simple pleasure…. the best kind …. for the simple pleasures often endure.

And my parents came.  We had them here for several days.  I’ll be sad when they are no longer able to travel.  I so fully enjoy their visit during the holiday.  Typically, they spend a few days with us before Christmas and then a few days after Christmas with my brother in Atlanta.  We shop just a little on Christmas Eve. We join a local fellowship for a Christmas Eve gathering. We dine, open gifts and enjoy each other.  And we fill stockings for them so that they can share in the Christmas morning excitement.

As my daddy prepared to leave on Christmas morning, he sat beside me on the couch, rested his hand upon mine and told me he was proud of me.  Really? Me? My heart swells, knowing that my life is not the written the way he would have chosen, but he is proud of the way I am handling what I have been gifted. I’m grateful. Me in my late forties, Daddy in his early seventies….  I don’t know why it still matters … that he be pleased … but it does. 

And I’ve given much thought, lately, to how our current situation will affect my own children.  Surely, if at forty seven, my parent’s approval still matters, then my own children care, as well.  And yet, there is this struggle, as they try to process our situation.  It is a difficult thing.  And I continue to pray that God will use, even this mess, this struggle, to make my children all the more strong and mighty …. and I know He hears my cries.

I’ve so enjoyed my holiday.  How can it be that this has been the most wonderful Christmas of my entire adulthood?  I don’t understand it, but it is so. There has been a peace and joy like I never remember. And I’m grateful. My own mother even noticed and mentioned it to me.  The birds sing, the fire crackles, kind words are spoken, we work together, presents have been shared, goodies baked to gift to neighbors….even Smudge seems more happy than ever as he snuggles with Glory on new bedding that he surely believes is his, not hers.Glory and Smudge

We have had a full two week break from classes – all four of us students.  Sweet Joy has slept in until nearly 8:00 am some mornings.  My bigger people have enjoyed late nights and late mornings with few expectations put upon them.  I am happy to watch them rest.  I have enjoyed the ability to simply be still. I’ve spent my time enjoying my children and tending to chores (like paperwork and stamp table straightening) that are often left untouched for weeks on end.

And so, I add to my list of One Thousand Gifts.

49. trunks and boughs, stripped bare and resting in winter’s chill
even they know this is just a season.
it is a time to stop. sit. contemplate. focus.
pull in. wither. wait.
barren. austere and naked.
we rest. sleep. slumber. linger. loiter.
close to home.
and know that spring
and it’s energy
will return soon.
so we rest.

The view from my back deck
50. laughter between siblings, enjoying each other’s company
51. slow ambles down paths of dirt in breezy, chilled air
52. crackling fire, burning wood, giving warmth
53. a new-to-me washing machine, to labor on my behalf, when the last one could move no more
54.  BJ, our mail-lady, who delivers year round with a bright smile and gentle demeanor
55. a gracious librarian at school who forgave fines
-without being asked –  on books needed for extra time during finals
56. gasoline that remains at a low price
57. friends who invite us to join them on mountain trips of hiking, fun and fellowship
58. a daughter who is brave enough to do the tough things … like quitting her job when she was not given a serving job that she was is easily capable of handling well, like walking away from a relationship that she felt was doing more harm than good…causing more pain than joy, and taking a jump to try out bangs … and finding she LOVES them!!

59. knowing how to cook, when others sometimes struggle
I’m so thankful this is one area that gives me no grief
60. antique silver, china and linens to grace my table of bounty
61. intertwined fingers, forming a circle of prayer around our table at Christmas
62. hot water
63. friendships of folks far away, but not forgotten
64. envelopes with holiday stamps that bring photos and letters of holiday cheer
65. new pet additions: birdies that sing and bring avian joy to our home
66. a summer memory of sun, sand and surf
67. piano melodies and violin tunes
68. my children’s father, who continues to be faithful to care for us
69. my Heavenly Father, who is faithful beyond measure to comfort, guide and strengthen
70. cranberries and flickering flames

71. plaid scarves
72. house wrens
73. God’s word, that somehow speaks to our spirit, in ways I cannot understand,
but experience, none-the-less
74. an inn that was full, that Mary could be offered the privacy of a stable to give birth to a King

75. children who are truly my friends
76. pure, true, honesty … embraced even when it is painful
77. the ability to be bare and real with certain friends
78. friends who will hold the umbrella, when we are unable to lift our arms
79. quilted stripes, plaid and paisley
80. the gentle rebuke of a friend, spoken with trepidation and gentleness
81. words of encouragement spoken from the heart
82. the ability to type without looking at the keys (thank you, Mrs. White)
83. stockings filled with simple treasures and joy on Christmas morn
84. a 90 average in my algebra class
85. nail clippers and emery boards
86. belts with bold, showy buckles
87. banana bread, dark and moist with chilled cream cheese

88.  a child who is faithful to practice and was honored to be allowed to play her instrument in a Christmas concert with her school
89. the passing of the winter solstice on December 21 – and knowing that the days are now lengthening
90. the celebration of 50 years of marriage by my mother and father on December 20 of this year
91. new brake pads
92. a son, with a smile, on a comfy couch

93. pine cones and holly berries
94. soft, happy puppies (that live in someone else’s home)
95. hair of silver and gray
96. clean sheets
97. a grateful heart
98. a teachable heart
99. a grandfather who taught a grandson how to carve the smoked gobbler …
an important skill, indeed
100. Christmas carols sung in simple harmony with candles flickering throughout a sanctuary on the eve of the day that we celebrate the birth of our Savior

Yes, I have enjoyed these days at home with my family, my children, my parents and my Lord. The New Year is right around the corner, with it’s busy-ness and goings on.  It’s been nice to sit in my reading corner with a cup of coffee…. to reflect and share. May your New Year be filled with growth and His joy, laughter and presence.  Yes, spring is just around the corner.


6 thoughts on “Gifts of the Christmas holiday

  1. Karen, I am proud of you, too. I have just recently begun reading your blog, and am encouraged because of some stuggles of my own I am going through. Thank you! Happy New Year to you and yours!


  2. Beautiful post! God’s grace is so evident in your life! His grace is kind of like an anesthetic — numbing the pain so that you can bear it and filling you with the gift of His peace and Joy!

    I want you to check out these wedding pictures from a wedding I attended on Jan. 2nd. This is our pastor’s daughter from SC — oldest daughter of 10 children. Her good friend and renowned photographer, Rowan Gillson, took her photos. I know you will enjoy his style! After looking at the wedding pictures, check out his blog and let me know what you think!


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