Remembering where we come from shapes us into who we are today.
Christmastime is my favorite time of year and I find myself tapping into the classic holiday music and movies earlier nowadays. The Advent season draws me in like a warm, cozy fire and the older I get, the longer I want it to last.
However, I am human and although I know what the season represents, I repeatedly fall short this wondrous time has to offer. Perfect gifts, traditions and the sparkle of material things can easily pull me away from the contented heart and mind I crave and the true meaning of Christmas. My priorities quickly get askew and I find myself staying up late, intently focused on getting my kids the last bit of "stuff" shopping online and giving myself permission to forego prayer time, daily gratitude or a 5 minute needed bible devotion.
Recently while looking for paper to revise my umpteenth Christmas gift list for my family, I stumbled across a letter my daughter had written to my husband and I her senior year in high school. Reading it immediately made me stop and pause. It was as if someone left it purposely for me to find. Inhaling with a refreshed mind and heart and exhaling the insignificant "stuff" that I can sometimes let override this glorious time, was exactly what I needed.
I AM FROM the countryside of Upstate New York with open fields and long windy roads. I am from the smell of burning marshmallows by the campfire after a long summer day. I am from Christmas Eve service while everyone sings by candlelight and having a party to celebrate, surrounded by family and an abundance of food. I am from rushing to open stockings, early Christmas morning, after waiting anxiously all night. I am from birthday celebrations surrounded by family and elaborate homemade cakes that change every year. I am from many nicknames that have changed over the years but I love them all the same. I am from shopping trips to the mall with my mother as my own personal stylist to ensure I buy the right clothes.
I AM FROM spinach and bacon filled quiche, with piles of fresh fruit ready to eat on Christmas morning. I am from fresh cookies out of the oven on a cold winter day with a tall glass of milk to wash down the chocolaty taste. I am from coloring eggs the night before Easter with endless patterns and colors and the smell of boiled eggs lingering for days. I am from the smell of fresh pumpkin seeds, roasting in the oven after a night of pumpkin carving.
I AM FROM have a good morning be safe, I love you. I am from slow down while coming down the driveway and be careful, the roads are slippery. I am from make sure you shake their hand first and introduce yourself, and always say please and thank you. I am from apologize when you’ve made a mistake and stay humble. I am from man up and don’t waste the gifts God gave you. I am from goodnight and sleep well, I love you.
I AM FROM arrivals from all over the world that made their way to America many years ago. I am from relatives of those who served our country that allow families like mine to feel safe. I am from the home my father grew up in, and the only place my family has ever called home. I am from a legacy of family, who I can always count on.
Her words reminded me of what I already knew but sometimes forget. The "stuff" isn't what our children remember, it's the time together, the experiences shared, and the people, not things, that create lasting memories. The letter was a bold sentiment basically affirming that where we come from shapes who we grow into.
I am from a God that has given me the gift of everlasting life and love through His perfect son. His additional gifts have been abundant in my life but no gift compares to the family he's given me. The amount of "stuff"could never match my love for them. And, defining a perfect Christmas by anything other than the One who it's all about, was foolish on my part.
I will continue to get my kids gifts and have overwhelming moments of getting everything done. However, Christmas will come regardless and whether I'm ready or not, it will be just as fulfilling and incredible for all of us as long as I keep Christ first and everything else second.
Merry Christmas & God Bless~