Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Grinchmas!

"The Grinch hated Christmas, the whole Christmas season. Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason."

As someone who has always loved Christmas, I had trouble getting into the merriment of the season this year. But thanks to a beautiful blonde haired little girl, I think my heart managed to grow three sizes this year.

It started with the shopping.  My mom and I always go Black Friday shopping. Not that we go very many places or looking for any particular deals. We go because it's a tradition, and because it's something we enjoy doing together.  We only go to Walmart in Litchfield, and we try NOT to go during the craziness.  

Hillsboro's Christmas theme this year was "How the Grinch Stole Hillsboro," but I felt a little Grinch-ish myself this season. Grace, on the other hand, LOVED the Grinch!
This year, as we made our way to the toys, I found myself tearing up a bit. The aisles were full of the latest Disney princess toys, Legos, puzzles, games, and everything that would delight a child on Christmas morning. Any child, except mine that is. With Grace's continuing limitations of mobility, there just aren't many toys she can play with anymore. I work hard at trying to find gifts (and give ideas) of things that will work for Grace. She LOVES Minnie Mouse, books, music and balls of any size. 

But as we walked through the aisles, I couldn't help but wish that she could write a letter to Santa, telling him all the things she would like to have, instead of things I find for her. I ended up leaving with cat food and Pediasure, thankfully neither of which were Christmas gifts. 

Grace thought the Grinch was a lot of fun to visit.
Armed with a better idea of what I would need to get started on my Christmas shopping, mom and I took Grace on a Monday in December, and had the best time ever. In fact, I told mom that shopping trip could be my entire Christmas present, because I had such a good time.  Instead of focusing on what Grace couldn't do or couldn't have, I found myself excited for the things I discovered for her, once again taking a step back to remember that this season isn't about "things."

As much as I love to get mail, even the barrage of Christmas cards seemed to get me down. Each one featured perfect family photos with kids, and letters sharing things Grace will never be able to do. But today, when Kyle brought in a HUGE stack of cards, I smiled as I opened each one, reminded of the giver who sent it. Sending cards and letters in the mail always brings me such joy (even if I don't get around to my Christmas cards until January). Just knowing those people stopped to take the time in their busy holiday plans to remember us this Christmas season, made me realized how truly blessed we are to be surrounded by such love.

Then, I started to find myself a little discouraged about taking her to see Santa. I wished she could have that childlike faith and magic when she set eyes on him. And while Grace will probably never actually understand the story of Santa, she still had a great time both of the visits we took her too. The last time we took her, I really think she would have sat on his lap all afternoon. She might not have any idea what it means to be Santa, but it didn't take away from her happiness, or mine.

Grace's first visit with Santa this season. And it was a HUGE hit!
Tonight, we attended what's called a "longest night" service at my church. I had never heard of it before, but as soon as I read Pastor Joy's description of it in the bulletin, I knew it was something we wouldn't miss.  It was designed for those who have trouble finding joy in the Christmas season. Maybe it's the first Christmas without a loved one, or someone who is unemployed and can't find a way to buy all those "things," that Christmas entails.

It spoke to me because I have just really had trouble finding joy in the Christmas season this year. Over and over again I ask why Grace has to be sick. But Pastor Joy encouraged us to change our "whys" into "hows" as in, "how can I serve God better?" And it hit particularly close to home. In the scriptures she shared with us, she talked about busting myths, things like "God took that one home because he needed them" or "God won't give you more than you can handle," and shared that God's promise is that he will always be with us no matter what. And it was comforting. 

Another visit with Santa. I really think Grace would have stayed all day if I would have let her.
Another unique part of the service was in the sharing of communion. Pastor Joy passed the bread to everyone and she gave the chalice to someone in the front row, who passed it to someone else until everyone had gotten it. It was a way to show that we all share in this journey together, and it was very moving.

There's days that this journey seems to big for me. The Amy Grant Christmas song "Breath of Heaven" often echoes in my head "Should a wiser one have taken my place?" Although I found myself thinking that I wish God had picked someone wiser or stronger earlier this Christmas season, I find strength in knowing that He's equipping us with everything we need for this journey. Yes, the road will be hard, especially at Christmas, but this Grinch knows she's never alone.


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