"O, Christmas tree", I bemoan as I pull the fake tree from the under-the-stairs closet. Bought in haste from a resale store to appease the hubby's objection to the mess of a real tree, I never did love this big bristle brush that seems to be missing it's bottom boughs. I scrounge around for a box the right width and height to set it on so I can get the hang-from-the-branches-with-care party started. Maybe my ship will be among the three sailing in on Christmas day in the morning and I will go out to some midnight clear sale and buy a tree more life-like. I decide to let some of the grand kids, with their eyes all a'glow, help me put the finishing touches on the tree when they come to spend the night. Somehow this time of the year is made most wonderful with children's excitement.
I remove the expired objects and other clutter from the table to make room for the holly, jolly, candles, greens, and pine cones. I pick up an envelope that traveled back with us from a recent trip to visit Jodi and her family in Florida. I finger through the contents, smiling at 4 year old Ian's artwork. (Emmanuel works as a car mechanic for BMW, while Jodi is a stay-at-home mom) We love time with Ian and his 2 year old brother, Dominic! They won't be home for Christmas this year, so we will cherish these memories.
Emmanuel, Jodi, Ian & Dominic
Kira & Josh
July of this year, when Christmas things were lying very still in their deep and dreamless hibernation sleep, Jill and Elle, Josh's lovely daughters, came to spend a week with us. Our excursions included a trip to Lake Michigan, picking up Uncle Austin in Valparaiso. (Austin recently acquired a social work job, being a life skills coach to youth in the foster system). Jill and Elle wondered about Amish as we wandered through Shipshewana. We made the most of our time together. You can catch more details of their visit here.
Elle, Austin, & Jill
I break my reverie and return to my decorating. Lovingly, I position the manger scene figures. Many years ago my brother, Jess, carved the pieces out of ivory soap. This memory leads me away to this year's October family visit to Virginia. Dad and Lena continue in their sweet relationship. Lois, Paul, Jess and their companions were all there. Glad tidings to our great Showalter kin!
I tuck the baby Jesus away in the manger and put the finishing touches on my snowmen collection display.
I hope it's not just wishful thinking, but I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. The season has yet to deliver any winter wonderland magic.
We'll have ourselves a merry little Christmas this Saturday as we rock around the Christmas tree with the family who live close by. A.J. (working in manufacturing and a recent grad with a criminal justice admin degree) and Amanda (working part-time and a stay-at-home mom) will bring Auron (5) and Elika (2). Dan (RV employee and an EMT trainee and volunteer with the fire department) and Kristina (full-time mom) will come with Aubrey (8), Shawn (5) and Rebecca (2). Austin is also close enough to join us.
Kristina, Dan, Shawn, Rebecca & Aubrey
Christ Jesus entered our world as a baby, lived here as our example, died as our Savior, now lives in heaven to intercede for us and will one day come to take us to the place he is preparing for us. He is Healer for all the pain and sorrow in this world, the Wonderful Counselor, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace! This is THE greatest gift of all. Joy to the world!
Do you hear what I hear? Our wish to each of you for a very meaningful and beautiful holiday and our heartfelt gratitude for all you mean to us.
In the love that came down at Christmas,
Kevin and Ruth
May the lyrics of this traditional carol bless you and be our prayer.
As with Gladness Men of OldWords: William C. Dix, 1860.
Music: Dix, Konrad Kocher, Stimmen aus dem Reiche Gottes, 1838
As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright
So, most glorious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.
As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom Heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.
As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.
Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.
In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
There forever may we sing
Alleluias to our King!