Have Yourself a Gracious Little Christmas

Christmas. We walked into this season knowing that it was gonna be hard, difficult, sad. There is such a build up of momentum, the parties, the gifts that need to be selected and wrapped, the food that needs to be prepared, the goodies that must be baked. This year we picked our tree right after Thanksgiving, but we went to the same farm as last year, when Alex was with us and I promise you I could hear his voice teasing Serena amongst the trees. I pulled out our boxes of ornaments and I really wasn't expecting it to be so bad, just a bunch of silly plastic and glitter and paint. Our tree has never been fancy, its just a bunch of memories we've collected over the years, the travels we've made together. We talk about each one as we put it up and that seems tediously slow but we've got a big family okay so it actually goes pretty quickly. There's the old ornaments from my momma's tree that I remember hanging up with my daddy and those from Josh's momma's tree that bring back childhood memories for him. Then there's the special ones the kids made at school that you put at the back of the tree, haha. There are the ones we got on that trip around the States with Papa and Nonnie and the girls. Baby's first Christmas and second and third. Haiti and Puerto Rico and the Bahamas when Taylor was a tiny baby on that cruise Papa insisted we accompany him on. My kids even talk about the ones that we've lost to accident and animal attacks, like the shrimp we picked up on a trip to Louisiana that the cat stole from the tree and the pups finished off. I didn't realize how many I owned that Papa had bought for me. And then there was the bag of Serena's ornaments that I had given to her last year when she got married.

And this season I thought I wanted to do it up big, to plow through the days with tinsel and hot chocolate and carols, but I'm finding that simple is best. Our advent traditions have been narrowed down to our Jesse Tree devotional and our prayer chain countdown. Some days that's more than I can handle. Most of our decorations are still in boxes in the closet and I've probably only watched a couple of Christmas movies. The best times are the silent ones in front of the fireplace with lights strung through a single bough of greenery. There will be gnocchi making on Christmas Eve and we'll all be crying a little bit at least on the inside, and when we read the story from Luke we'll hear his voice reading it, each carol that doesn't just carry a melody but a million memories, and in the simplicity we will reach for Grace.


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