+[christmas for me this year]+

Pure white embossed footprints still line the walk from our door to driveway.  Two sets:  one belonging to my parents, one to Peyton and I.  House shoes, clogs and hiking boots co mingled for embraces and words of love and thankfulness before their car doors closed and they began their trek back to Texas.  The four of us stood there silently as a soft snow fell at sunrise this morning.  We watched as they drove away - the two of us, our hands waving to the beat of our hearts.  Its always hard to say goodbye.  The snowflake laden trees lined their way down the steep and winding hill which leads to our home.  We watched them go until we could no longer see their car. 

A true introvert, I am most at peace in the quiet solitude both before and after a time of gathering.  It is not that I dont deeply enjoy those I hold most dear and the moments we are physically together, but rather that it takes silence for me to collect my feelings, my appreciations, and toss them all at once upon the canvas of my heart, my mind,  then step back and reflect upon the beauty of the colors - the shape, the depth, the mystery, the loveliness of it all.  I need that alone time in order to see the wholeness. 

As we were deep beneath heavy quilts last night, each leaning to turn out our bedside lamps, Doug asked if I had a good Christmas.  I confessed that yes, I did, but I am always a bit glad when it is over.  The fireplace in our room was all that could be heard.  I returned the question to him in the stillness.  He shared the opposite, that he is always a bit sad to see it slipping away - that he really likes Christmas Day and always has.  I fell asleep feeling something heavier than those quilts and wondering if I will forever miss something in this holiday season, or if I merely need to fully experience silence to appreciate sound.

I enjoy thinking back to moments like the one as I stood with Savannah against a river rock fireplace at our upstairs church entrance on Christmas Eve.  I, with a box of white candles for each who entered the candlelight service, she next to me handing out programs.  Her beaming face and voice wishing all a Merry Christmas brought tears to my eyes more than once.   Many were audibly delighted to see a teenager at her post.   She, no longer a child in any way, inspires me.  She thanked me for much as we stood there, wording wrapped as presents.  All the while I held her words in surprise - for it is I who have been blessed in being her mother and walking alongside her.  A true gift that moment was, a simple greeting others alongside my  blossomed daughter.

I think back to another moment at that same service, but at its close.  Though I did not sit next to him as we sang and shared Communion in that body of Believers, I somehow ended up walking up the isle with him to the car.  With crowds pushing in from all sides and a soft snow falling outside the windows, I took hold of his left arm, first with my right hand, then wrapping  fingers around his elbow I placed my left hand upon his wrist and held tight.  Suddenly and without warning hot tears lined my cheeks.  I, with people all around me and my earthly father guiding me through the crowd, whispered the most sincere words of thanks to my God.  Its didn't have to be like this, our story - my dads and mine.  It could have remained the way it was for years - two people distanced by  a brokenness neither of is could mend.  But the Lord provided more, a different ending.  Thankfulness digs deeper into me than any other emotion.  Isn't it beautiful that the same tears which fell in deepest need, now fall in fullest satisfaction?  A gift that moment was, a simple walking an isle out of church with my embracing father.

We weren't able to buy the girls more than one gift this year (but that was one more than last year!).  Doug renewed our phone contract so as to get free phones, which we gave to one another.  In other words, from the outside, our exchanges looked pretty lean - which sadly is a common barometer of Christmas.  Yes, admittedly, sometimes our changed financial life is still hard for me, and yet we live in plenty and we all know it.  The girls radiant with joy and love on Christmas morning testified to a Gift in our family greater than what I can put into words.  A gift that celebration was, watching two teenagers full of something more than this world or its trinkets can offer. 

I step back this moment and look at these colors I have tossed - the shape, the depth, the mystery, the loveliness of it all.  I needed this alone time in order to see the wholeness.  I now understand the importance of Believing when there is nothing impressive or promising seen, the waiting in faith.  I now understand why those in poverty (physical, emotional or spiritual) long for deliverance.  I now see Christmas differently and appreciate the gift of a King coming in humility for me, for you, differently.  I have now experienced poverty and believe I am only now truly beginning to experience Christmas.  Yes, I needed to fully experience silence to begin full appreciation of sound.