Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. Even as a little girl my parents would entrust my sister and I with the privilege of decorating the tree. (Hats off to my sweet mom! I think I may just have a tad-little-ity-bittie control issues when it comes to the final look of the tree - I have to make myself step back and allow the girls artistic license on the tree ... but when they are no longer looking I confess that I can't help a little rearranging! It just HAS to look balanced, or I can't sleep peacefully! ha ha). Anyway - back to my non-controlling amazing mom who let us decorate the tree without fixing it ... I remember how my sis and I would spend hours going through those little boxes of ornaments, playing with the sweet figurines. There weren't a whole lot of them, and I don't remember us often adding to the collection, but that in itself made it such a sweet memory. Each of those little ornaments carried precious memories with them. I remember a glass fairy that my sister and I would have to take turns on who got to place her because she was both of our favourite. When my sister would leave the room, I would take her off the tree and play make believe games and eventually find my own special place for her :0) (Whoops ... there are those control issues again - hee hee).
To this day, nothing brings that special Christmas-is-near feeling to my heart like sitting in the quietened lounge when everyone has gone to sleep, with the lights dimmed low, watching the colourful lights flick on and off. Just me, the tree and my many thoughts. Back then I would try imagine what kinds of pressies would be waiting under that tree come Christmas day. Now, the fun is dreaming up what I am going place underneath that tree and the joy on all of my beloveds faces when they come running through on Christmas morning. Watching their joy and anticipation building reminds me of the wonder of seeing life through a child's eyes.
Yesterday the girls and I put the tree up while Gabriel crawled after all the baubles on the floor. It was a simple, sweet, happy, redeeming memory for me. I say redeeming, because the last 2 Christmas' haven't been too easy on my heart. While they still hold very precious memories, knowing that we are one little boy short of decorating the tree with and wrapping a present for makes my heart ache for my son. Sometimes it's the small things that make your heart ache. It's that constant feeling as a parent that just one more of your children should be in your arms for a cuddle. So this year we decided to sponsor a Christmas present for the Santa-shoebox charity for a little boy who is 2 years old. It was quite a mixture of emotions going out and choosing things that I imagined Zac may have enjoyed. Somehow putting it all together brought a peace to my heart, even in the longing, knowing that Zac would be honoured by the simple joy that this little box of surprises will bring to a very precious child in need.
Tonight I am reminding myself in the glow of my little Christmas tree that my heart has such a deep capacity to live, laugh and love even in the missing. I am thankful that the Lord has graced us to laugh and find life and joy as a family even though we still so miss and long for our precious Zaccie. To me that is my Christmas miracle. Finding a balance between the joy and sorrow. Only His peace has allowed us to find this place. We glimpse him in his growing baby brother. We honour him in the deep bond of love that we share with each other as a family as together we walk out the journey of loss and life. And so even in the tears that roll from a mother's longing heart ... my heart has learned to also make room for heartfelt belly laughs, giggles and tickles with my 3 living children this side of Heaven. Watching my girls decorate the tree ... seeing Gabriel's joy in those plastic baubles ... cozying up onto the couch and eating popcorn and gingerbread men while watching a movie together (after fixing the tree when the girls weren't watching - hee hee)... giggling at my hubbies face when he came home to find decorations dangling from the chandelier once again, all make me smile and redeem the simple joys of festive Christmas cheer that was a little harder to find for a little while. Only Jesus. Only His grace. This mommy is smiling even in the teary-eyed missing of one very special little boy who continues to grow my heart.