Yesterday afternoon I witnessed an amazing display of wonder through the eyes of my two and a half-year old granddaughter. You see, they had missed Thanksgiving dinner at our home this year because two of the children were home with a virus and it was the first time she had been in our home since we had brought in the Christmas tree. Even though it was undecorated, she stood absolutely in awe and wonder at the sight. You see, it stands about six and a half feet above her head! I wish I could have captured that sweet little face and those sparkling eyes as she just stood staring up with the biggest smile her little face could contain!! Pure joy and wonder! Amazement! It is a precious gift that is so easy to miss as we grow into adults and take on the responsibilities of life.
So how do we hold on to wonder in a life filled with responsibilities, challenges, concerns, disappointments, problems, pain, the demands of others and demands we place upon ourselves? What can we do to once again experience the wonder of a new-born baby, a beautiful rainbow, a shooting star, the sound of a small child cackling with laughter? How I wish I had half as many answers as I do questions…I bet I drove my parents nuts with my questions as a child because I drive me nuts with them now!
Just this afternoon someone very dear to me asked me this question… “why is it that it seems like some people just seem to have a target on their back?” I so understand that feeling. Everyone struggles at one time or another, but it does seem as though some people do have more that most. For many the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is the hardest and loneliest time of the year. For others, the financial pressures are just too much. We often times overextend ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and financially and end up exhausted and spent rather that focusing of the true reasons for celebrations
- Thanksgiving is for gathering with loved ones-family, friends, and perhaps inviting a college student, soldier or a neighbor who is far from their own family to join in. It’s a time to remember the blessings in our lives and if we are wise to do so often during the year as well.
- Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrations of the miracles and faithfulness of God in the lives of His children. Christmas for celebrating the gift of God’s Son, our Savior and Hanukkah celebrating the miracle of one days oil lasting eight as the Temple was re-dedicated.
These should be joyous times and times of celebration and wonder at the goodness and blessings in our lives yet for many it is not so. I think back to stories from my childhood. My grandmother used to tell me about her Christmas mornings. She said she would get an apple, an orange and a few nuts (in the shells) in her stocking and each year she would (if money allowed) get a small porcelain doll which would after she held it be placed on the mantle until the next Christmas. Her mom would then take the doll from the previous year for her to play with. How different from most Christmas celebrations today! She was not disappointed she said because she’d been looking forward to playing with that beautiful doll for the whole year and also had something to look forward to for the next.
Those were simpler times and I believe maybe our lives just might benefit from some simplification as well. It might not change those external things that seem to come at us a mile a minute, but just maybe it might help us deal with them better if we take time to simplify and not expect so much of ourselves and others. Maybe if we give ourselves permission to relax and not worry about the perfect meal, perfect decor, and spotless house we wouldn’t be too exhausted to enjoy our holiday gatherings, after all for me, I want to enjoy my family and friends. They are not coming to see my home (and if they are, shame on them), but to see me and my family and enjoy fellowship. Perhaps, there will be fewer packages per person this year and more time sitting in the floor playing games or putting together the gifts with them. Maybe menus should be simpler in my home this year: one meat, rather than two; three sides rather that five or six; one type of pie and one cake rather that several; one tree and simple splashes of decorations… Then there will be more time to find wonder in the season; more time to share with friends, family and those in need of companionship; more time to star gaze; sit by a fire and chat with friends; remember the important things and more time to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.
Grace and peace to you!