Where is the JOY?

By: Ms. O

I know this is the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”….I have heard it sung many times..since…say…October.

I see the lights lining our streets…strung across the houses…the giant inflatables that are made to bring smiles to our face. The cards I have opened…that I hang across the door from a cute little twine clothes line…tell tales of year long happenings…joyous news that keep us up to date with families that I connect with perhaps once a year. My daughter and I did our marathon baking event…and I mean marathon, people…as in nine kinds of cookies made in one evening. The kitchen smelled like Christmas.

The tree is lit…the house is decked…with bows of…not holly…more like fake greenery. We have so many lights outside…and inside…that the power meter runs non-stop until early in the morning when the timer shuts it down.

There is no mistaking what time of the year it is….but with that comes the “missing”….the empty places.

I miss the part of being a child…waking up on Christmas day….and coming down to see filled stockings and wrapped gifts. We would take turns…by age…which I think was started one year when we used to open them helter-skelter-random-like and a gift got accidentally thrown away…hence the new more orderly tradition began.

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I miss my grandparents. I used to love on Christmas day when they arrived at our house. Each of us would wait patiently by our pile of gifts as my grandma made her way grandchild by grandchild to see what we got. I felt so special showing my loot to her…..as she ooed and ahhhed.

I miss when the kids were little…and Christmas was fresh and new all over again. The excitement would build…the anticipation mounting…striking a chord in me…back to my own childhood Christmas.  I would be awake long before they would…ready for the celebration to begin. To see their “wish list” come true…as they opened their gifts…in an orderly manner of course.

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I don’t know what to do with that feeling of missing. It is an ache that makes me tear up…and wish I had paid more attention to those times when I had them.

I wish there was a magic screen to roll footage of those childhood Christmas’s…to be back once more in our basement…the tree lit up in the corner…and packages in their neat piles once again. What I would not give to hear my grandma’s gravelly voice again….or hear my grandpa fussing at her…us…whoever…even though it was more bark than bite.

I know I was not in a rush for my own kids to grow up…it just happened. It feels like yesterday that they were opening up GI Joes, Barbies, Legos and Cabbage Patch dolls. Now it is a memory that is conjured up by old pictures to remind me what year who got what.

What do we do with this missing?

How do we turn it to joy…because that is what this season is all about…JOY…isn’t it?

‘Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’? “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.…’ John 16:19-21

I read this, knowing the disciples were not quite grasping that fact that Christ was leaving them. The pain was real for them…because they knew the “missing” was coming. To have the fullness of God though, things had to change. He went away….to return with great news…for their future. …and ours.

That does not mean the disciples did not miss “the good ole days”…not all. But Jesus explains that with this “change” comes renewed hope…and joy…and intentional living. The future was set…and waiting for them to take up the cross and follow Him.

So when the “missing” brushes my subconscious…let my tears turn to joy.

Because of my childhood memories…I wanted the same for my own kids. Growing up we had traditions…and that carried on.  We have a wealth of things to “remember when” about…that bring back scenes of family…and home. And with that comes anticipated joy in our future…of what’s to come.

I remember with my own kids…after all the gifts were opened….I would be a collapsed heap of tired on the couch…thinking…”oh my…that was quick”…not realizing the full impact of that till years later. Now, as I look back on my life…I feel God beside me saying to me…”that went by in a blink of an eye, didn’t it””…and I know He is right…and what lies ahead will do the same…but it does not take away the joy of it all.

Pull your loved ones close…pause in your celebration to remember the moments…and know that God came to us as a child…who grew up way to fast…but we savor His life…because He gave us the reason to savor it…Love fulfilled.

Merry Christmas to all….and to all….and good night. Amen.