Written by Malinda Just Tuesday, 20 December 2011 20:38
During a time where the world around me races at a frantic pace—shopping, baking, partying, wrapping, unwrapping—I find myself quietly reflective.
It’s not that I haven’t been participating in outward Christmas tidings; quite the opposite. Our family has been thoroughly involved in decking the halls and spreading goodwill toward men.
In fact, by the time you read this, I will have completed my debut as director of our church’s Christmas program. (I’ve had a lot of fun, by the way.)
Our Christmas tree is in place, decorated by a jubilant 3-year-old who put all the ornaments on the bottom 2 feet of the tree. (She wasn’t too happy when I began evenly dispersing the Frosty Friends.)
The stockings are hung.
My husband and I returned to our alma mater, Tabor College (we had a long drive, let me tell you), to sing with 80-plus voices in Messiah.
We attended Tabor Mennonite youth’s Night at the Barn, which is quickly becoming a family favorite. Watching a short performance depicting aspects of the Nativity amid donkeys, sheep, cows, chickens and a llama is nothing short of unique.
It also prompted one of my favorite kid-isms from the mouths of my daughters, when last year, then 2-year-old Gracelyn exclaimed, “Look, it’s the donkey that Mary drived!”
We boisterously sang with carolers from our church.
Round one of holiday baking is in the books, and round two is planned for later this week. Gifts have started appearing under the tree. Christmas gatherings are set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Snow is even expected this week.
Yep. On the outside, everything is coming together.
And yet I find myself perfectly fitting the dictionary definition of introspection: “The examination of one’s own thoughts, impressions and feelings, especially for long periods.”
This last year has been heavy—which is probably why one of those lighthearted Christmas letters didn’t make it in the mail this year. We moved to the country and my husband got a new job—both things that brought periods of change and adjustment for our family.
We grieved through two miscarriages—the first in April and the second in October. We also said good-bye to a good college friend of ours who died of cancer at the beginning of the year, and then to my grandma who died in May.
Overall, it’s been a tough year.
But that’s where the introspection comes in. With the hardship has come opportunity for tremendous spiritual growth.
And that’s all thanks to the Christmas story: “The Word became flesh and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only son.”
I made it through this year, clinging to the hope that began with the birth of a tiny baby and culminated with His sacrifice on the cross. Without that hope, I would be wallowing in the despair that comes from loss.
Each year, my happiness is coming less and less from the outside. Instead, I find joy coming more and more from the heart. It’s been a painful transition, yes, but I wouldn’t trade the gift for anything that comes under a tree.
Although I still like a nicely wrapped present every once in a while....