The sights and sounds of the Christmas season have been appearing everywhere, but now have come to our house. Decorating our tree was the last step to complete the process just a few days ago. With my Honey Clementine candle burning and Christmas playlist tuned up on my iPod, I was ready to start the task by spiraling the glittering gold ribbon around the tree so the tree lights would reflect from every direction. Next came the gold and platinum colored net ribbon between the ribbon swirls.
Finally it was time for the ornaments we have collected over our nearly 54 years of marriage. Picking up each ornament brings back memories of people and places dear to our hearts. Yes, there are some of those beautiful Christmas balls scattered about the tree in red, gold, silver, and green, but the other ornaments are the ones that cause me to linger and consider the stories they tell.
Some are engraved from friends we have known for forty years and I pause as I find just the right spot for the one they gave us on our fiftieth anniversary just a few years ago. Some are handmade with sequins and assorted trims made by a friend who now celebrates Christmas in heaven each year. There are three hand crocheted snowflakes we received as a gift from an older friend (now deceased) for our first Christmas together and a hand-made crocheted angel from my mother.
My mother had not made the angel herself, but one of her friends had made one for us and each of our children. What I had not known was how she had planned for the future when she considered these angels. After she and my dad died, I found a large shoe box on their closet shelf and on the lid she had written “for future great-grandchildren.” Tucked inside there were five identical angels to the ones we had been given. As each of our grandchildren had their first Christmas I gave them the angel from the great-grandmother they had never met. Since we were blessed with six grandchildren, one did not receive one of her angels, but I looked for another ornament to be from her.
It took longer for me to place the ornaments as I recalled so many other Christmases and people. Then I added glass icicles. Several years ago I discovered these at a Christmas shop and could not resist buying several dozen. (To be honest, I bought six-dozen.) They brought back memories of the Christmas tree in my home when I was a child when we had some glass icicles on the tree.
The joy of this favorite season and all its precious memories bring tinges of sadness as well.
A number of those ornaments come from friends now gone from this earth and who are missed no matter how long they have been gone. There is also the memory of the Christmas my husband was away from me on active duty in military service and the first Christmas my parents were both celebrating Christmas in heaven. Other Christmas seasons are remembered because of deaths that came then and a suicide as well. Those years the candles didn’t hold the allure they usually do and the joy in the birth of the Savior was balanced by the sacrifice He came to give and the sorrow mingled with joy because of it.
It can be easy in the busyness of decorating, baking, shopping, wrapping gifts, and attending various Christmas programs to miss moments to attend to the hearts of some who will have a new empty chair at their table this Christmas. For them the season will be bittersweet. Perhaps that is true for you.
I recall so many of the meaningful words written by C.S. Lewis born of his own grief in A Grief Observed. One of the things he wrote was this:
“No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep swallowing.”
Nearly twenty years ago two Christian authors wrote a special little book that I have on my shelf and would encourage you to consider. The title is The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions by Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. DeVries. It is less than 100 pages including an appendix and the words of the authors may resonate as you experience grief in the midst of a season where we focus on joy.
As I completed the tree and turned off all the lights except those on the mantle and tree, I sat down to enjoy its beauty knowing the light and the glow from the tree is a dim comparison to the light and glow that I will see when I meet the Savior face-to-face. I also whispered a prayer of thankfulness for each memory and each person connected with it, grateful for rich relationships that create such a special tapestry over my lifetime.
My thoughts recall the lines Joy Gresham speaks that come alive on the screen in the poignant movie “Shadowlands” as C.S. Lewis struggles with the prospect of losing her to cancer:
“The pain then is part of the happiness now. That’s the deal.”
How well our Lord understood that as He lived and chose to die a painful death so we could know the happiness of eternity with Him. Life now will always have some pain, even at Christmas, but not so one day.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
25 thoughts on “Remembering…”
Love your tree! Christmastime seems to always be a mixture of happiness along with sadness. Thank you Pam for linking up with us at the #BloggingGrandmothers End of the Year Link Party 2018!
Thank you! It has become a favorite thing to do and one my family loves. Yes, Christmastime is often like that. 💝
Beautiful! About half of my ornaments I pick up new ones everywhere I visit so that I have something to remind me of the fun times with family and friends.
I love that tradition!! We have ornaments on the tree from favorite vacation spots as well! Have a blessed Christmas🎄
Your tree is gorgeous. Mine is not up yet. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and remember. I am sharing this on on Pinterest. Thank you posting on Grace & Truth Christian Link-Up. Blessings, Maree
Thanks so much! Our adult children and grandchildren will celebrate with us the weekend before Christmas and since the tree is now artificial, I needed to get it done early so I could focus on finishing shopping and food. (My husband and I also love to sit in the family room where it is with only the tree and mantle lights on and just enjoy it!) Hope you have a special time decorating your tree🎄
What a poignant post, Pam. (I won’t try to say that fast.) And, assuming the picture of the tree is yours? It is beautiful. Finally, on my blog…book reviews! Forgive me, friend. I am so late. xo
Thank you, Susan! The final pic of the tree is indeed our tree in the corner of our family room. Several years ago we gave up a real tree as a result of my husband’s back issues and once we had the artificial one I started to ribbon it and add the mesh glittery netting you see.
Thanks for the “heads up” about the review. I have been woefully behind at keeping up with websites after being away for 8 days. I will check it out. I so much appreciate your doing it in the midst of your own busyness and travel.
What hope. Thank you, Pam. laurensparks.net
Such a beautiful tree with so very many sweet memories tucked in the branches. Thank you so much for sharing this. And thank you for sharing the beautiful quotes as well. I always enjoy your posts so much! Visiting from Gracefull Tuesday link up.
Thanks, Cheryl! I so much appreciate your kind words!❤️
What a lovely tree! Thinking of you and so glad you shared with us today on NanaHood so I could find you!
Thanks, Teresa! It’s one we often have people want to sit beside and sip something hot during this season.❤️
Congratulations on your long marriage. 54 years! I read C.S. Lewis’ Shadowlands too, many years ago. It was my favorite of his books. The impact his dear wife had on his life, his writing and his outlook on life was amazing. She truly did make him a better person.
Thank you! In some ways I can hardly believe we have reached this point as it has gone by faster than I could have imagined on the whole of it.
I agree heartily with your sentiments about C.S. Lewis and the impact of his wife on him. We all can learn from that example.💕
My family is in a season of grief. Thank you for the reminding me of the CS Lewis book and The Empty Chair. Thank you also for your faithful blogging. Barclay
I am so sorry you are in this season, but know the Lord’s comfort is there for you and accepts where you are in the process. You never fail to bless me by your encouraging words. ❤️
It’s so true that the joy and the grief mingle at this time of year. Truly, if we had never had such wonderful friends and family, our loss would not be so great. Ironic, but laced with grace.
Exactly right, Michele! I think Joy’s lines in Shadowlands convey that well and so do you!❤️