And so this is Christmas

blogIMG_0169.jpgAnd so this is Christmas. Another holiday over. Another year almost at its end.

Christmas has come and has gone. There’s leftover food in the fridge. Garbage bags full of ripped wrapping paper and ribbons. Cookie crumbs all over the floor. Not to mention the containers of cookies and other treats not eaten taking up space on the kitchen counter.

The Christmas tree which once had gaily wrapped gifts gracing the floor underneath now stands bare and alone. But laundry baskets of towels and sheets are full to the brim.

Christmas is over and this place Papa and I call home is quiet and empty once more. Just a few days ago, the house was noisy and full of joy and laughter.

All the “kids” were home for the holiday this year along with Nana and Papa’s three apples of our eye, our grandchildren. Even the grand-dog, Barley, joined us to celebrate this year.

We enjoyed five days of celebrating together, filling our bellies with good food, our hands with thoughtful gifts, our ears with conversations, our spirits with merry-making and fun, but more importantly, our hearts with much love.

We worshiped our Lord together as a family at church. We listened to time-honored Christmas carols played on the piano by our oldest daughter.

We watched those Christmas movies that make us guffaw every single time and some old VHS tapes (remember those?) from our kids’ childhood that they want to watch every Christmas.

As we gathered around the dining room table for Christmas Day dinner, we continued our tradition of Christmas hopes, writing down our wishes, hopes, or goals to take place by next Christmas. First we take turns reading what we wrote for this year, then we write our wishes for the year to come.  

And we played game after game – some competitive like the candy cane (spoons) card game and Christmas movies team trivia; some just plain silly like charades and marshmallow tower building, and some ridiculous like Beard Ball (we don’t recommend it).

blogIMG_0197Nana fashioned fun times for the little ones as well. The two oldest (almost five and just turned three) searched the house for clues to a hidden treasure (a box of Christmas novelties under the tree) and played round after round of “find Santa.”

And we squeezed in two December birthday celebrations and managed to serve our family tradition of Christmas sundaes.  

All in all, it was a wonderful family Christmas celebration with a crazy white elephant gift exchange thrown in for good measure.

But I find myself wondering did we truly take time to honor the reason we celebrate this holiday in the first place? Were we so busy doing and preparing and gathering and eating and trying to get little ones down for naps and moving on to the next activity that we forgot to focus on Jesus? Did we truly honor our Savior?

blogIMG_1528Our Christmas was definitely family-oriented but I have to wonder was it Christ-centered? Did we really take time to remember the reason for the season? I think we did, but I also think we could have, should have done much better.

That needs to be my Christmas wish for next year and every year thereafter.

“The great challenge left to us is to cut through all the glitz and glam of the season that has grown increasingly secular and commercial, and be reminded of the beauty of the One who is Christmas.” ~ Bill Crowder

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Words for Wednesday: For You

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You, dear readers and friends, are important to me and I am thankful for each of you. My wish for you on this Christmas Day is that you have time to reflect on your blessings. 

Merry Christmas!

“Christmas gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us.” ~ David Cameron

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: The Reason

blogIMG_1523This beautiful stained glass window portrays the story of the birth of Jesus Christ from one visit to another.

The first visit was from an angel telling the virgin Mary she would experience a miraculous birth, the birth of a Savior. The last visit was a couple of years later when Wise Men followed a new and bright star in the sky to visit the Christ Child bringing him gifts.

If you don’t know this amazing story, I hope you can find a Bible to read the narrative. Or you can just search the internet for one of the Biblical accounts. Look up “Luke 1:26 through Luke 2:30.”

My hope is that if you’ve never heard about Jesus, who He is, how He was born, and for what purpose, you will understand the meaning of this photo after you’ve read or heard that passage of Scripture.  It’s why we, who are Christians, celebrate this holiday named Christmas.  

For those of you who know the Nativity Story, may you pause in all your busyness to remember what this season is truly intended for – to commemorate the birth of a Savior, whose name is Jesus Christ, Son of God (His divinity) yet Son of Man (His humanity).

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Jesus won’t stay in the corner

blogIMG_6521On one of our travels this past year, we ventured into some Christmas stores. You know, those shops with nothing but Christmas décor for sale year round.

I love Christmas, I truly do. And I do enjoy decorating the Christmas pine in a festive way with special ornaments, many from places we’ve lived or traveled to and collected over our 40+ years of marriage. 

In addition, every year since our first child’s birth, I’ve purchased some kind of special Christmas ornament for each of our children. When they were small, my intention was to accumulate these ornaments, adding to them each year, so that when they grew up and left this nest called home, they would have a box of ornaments to put on their very own Christmas trees.

As they got old enough, I would let them choose their own ornament. So each of our three left home for adulthood with a box of Christmas memories.

And even though it’s been many years now that the last fledgling flew out of our nest, I still look far and wide for a special ornament to gift them and have added our two granddaughters to the Christmas ornament search list as well.

So, if there’s a Christmas shop handy, I’m in it, gleaning over the shelves, searching for just the right bauble.

One shop we visited on a trip this past summer looked promising. Entering the store, Christmas music was playing and the place was loaded with joyous Noel items everywhere.

Honestly, there seemed to be every kind of ornament imaginable – any theme, you name it, they had it. Some of the ornaments I felt were questionable to pass as Christmas tree decorations, but you know, to each his own.

Papa and I would just shake our heads at many of them and move on to the next shelf. We looked high, we looked low. And we finally did find a couple of ornaments to purchase – one for our oldest daughter and her hubby and one for a friend of mine.

But in all of our searching and perusing of the items in this Christmas shop, something was noticeably missing.

Where was Jesus – you know, the reason for the season? The Christ. The Savior of the world that Christmas is named for.

In the very back room of this store with many rooms, in the very far left corner of that room on a shelf down low below your eye level, a couple of small nativity sets occupied a tiny space.

That was all.  I had to bend over and practically touch my shoulder to my ear to even see them sitting here in that forlorn little corner.

No other decorations proclaiming the meaning of Christmas could be found in that shop. None. Nothing about Jesus other than that tiny little baby in the two or three crèches. Just that and absolutely nothing more.

So what did Jesus do to deserve being put in the corner, out of the way, where no one would see Him?

He had the audacity to fulfill ancient prophecy as the Messiah – the long-awaited Savior.   He exhibited absolute obedience to His Father by allowing himself to be taken to slaughter – this Lamb of God – hung on the cross in place of every sinner, dying for the love of His life – us.

He had the purest, unadulterated form of love for mankind than anyone else who has ever walked on this place called earth has ever possessed. Because He surrendered Himself for me. For you. For every single soul who chooses to believe in Him and accept His free and unconditional gift of grace – salvation.

Some day He won’t be put in the corner – forgotten and dusty. Because someday He’s coming back. And all of those Christmas ornaments that seem to gleam and glitter and catch our attention will be worthless.

They will not matter.

Because every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And He is the reason for the season.

“The great challenge left to us is to cut through all the glitz and glam of the season that has grown increasingly secular and commercial, and be reminded of the beauty of the One who is Christmas.” -Bill Crowder

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

What is Christmas

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It’s Christmas Eve.

Not a creature is stirring not even a mouse.

Those stockings are hung on the fireplace.

The brightly-lit and adorned Christmas tree waits quietly and patiently for gaily wrapped packages to appear beneath its boughs.

Freshly baked cookies perch on a special plate while a mug of milk sits nearby for Santa’s visit and, not to be forgotten, a carrot for Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

It’s Christmas Eve.

The house is ablaze with lights and Christmas finery everywhere.

A basket of happy Christmas tidings in the form of greeting cards from family and friends rests on an end table right next to the snowman decoration.

The sweet music of Christmas carols rings through the house as all gather back home.

And after a sumptuous dinner, Mama in her kerchief and Papa in his cap settle down for a well-deserved winter’s nap.

The house becomes silent while visions of sugarplums and fluffy white snow dance in grand-baby’s head.

It’s Christmas Eve.

But all of these things are not what Christmas truly means.

What is Christmas if we don’t remember the reason why we celebrate it?

What is Christmas? The answer is found wrapped in a manger.  (Click on the following link.)

This is Christmas

 

It’s Christmas Eve.  

And at midnight, we welcome in the day named after our Savior.

THIS is Christmas.

“Christmas can be celebrated in the school room with pine trees, tinsel and reindeer, but there must be no mention of the man whose birthday is being celebrated. One wonders how a teacher would answer if a student asked why it was called Christmas.”  ~Ronald Reagan 

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com