Monday, December 3, 2012

My Christmas Wish

Emmy, what do you want for Christmas?
Toys and Big Bird.

What kind of toys?
Toys and Big Bird.

What will Santa be bringing you this year?
Toys and Big Bird.

What is on your Christmas list?
Toys and Big Bird.

I was two that Christmas and had never wanted anything as much as I wanted a Big Bird. My answer always stayed the same. “Toys and Big Bird.” I said it so often that our family and friends just kept asking me more and more often to see if my answer would ever change. It never did. I was unwaveringly certain of what I wished for that year. And under my tree that Christmas?

Toys and Big Bird, of course.

 Bottom Right: Toys and Big Bird

Still going strong... and going a little bit blind.

Unless you are a wishing for a trampoline, Santa never lets you down.

I have wished for many things over the years. And my favorite Christmases were the year of Big Bird, the year of the doll house, and the year of the basketball goal.

But the best Christmas present that I ever got was something that I never even knew that I wanted. I was in seventh grade and my Granny had just been diagnosed with cancer 4 months earlier. Because she lived next door, I was able to visit her every day while she was sick. Every single day. I never missed one. I always showed up with cookies in hand or a handmade card or most of the time just a big smile – because that is what she wanted the most. She would always pat my cheeks and tell me that she loved to see me smile. Long before I ever thought I could be beautiful, Granny would tell me so.

I recently found a school picture that I gave Granny in 96-97. On the back she had written "Beautiful".

Granny and I just before my first Christmas.

And that year for Christmas, her very last one, Granny had a special gift for me. She had wrapped up a little angel pin. The pin that the doctors gave her when she took her very last chemo treatment.

It was the first time that I wished for something bigger than a Christmas present. It was a Christmas present that made me wish for hope. It was a gift that changed my heart.

From that point on she always called me “Angel”. She would talk to me about how I was part of her heart. How I was her gift that made fighting a battle worthwhile. How I was her joy when she didn’t feel like smiling. How I was her delight and anticipation when the days felt long but she knew that I would soon be stopping by. So I kept showing up every day with a big smile and a lot of hope because that is what calmed her heart. And mine.

And just a few short months later when Granny moved from the arms of the people who loved her heart to the arms of the One who loves her soul, I wore my angel pin on my dress and prayed for a sign of hope. And that bright April morning, a day far too warm for any such thing, it began to snow. My restless heart settled as sweet snowflakes fell on my face while I cried her into a better place - her Home.

Oh, and over ten years later when we laid our Pa down beside his bride on Valentine’s Day, even though it was nowhere in the forecast, it began to snow again – another reminder of hope from above.

Christmas isn’t the same for me anymore. I have always been known for loving gifts, but gifts look a lot different to me now. For one thing, getting something like a vacuum cleaner makes me really happy. But now the presents don’t matter nearly as much as presence. As joy. As hope. As love. And now my wishes can't be wrapped and left waiting for me under a tree.

Now I wish for things like joy – for bright smiles and homes full of laughter.

It’s why things like my mom dropping an entire plate of cornbread on the floor is more memorable than the thousands of times that she made it perfectly.

Or why we laugh so hard that our eyes water when my sister wears my grandma’s wig. Again.

It’s why I send an ornament to my nephews every year after Thanksgiving. Because the anticipation of Christmas always brings a smile.

Or why I dance around singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs – no matter how terrible I sound. And I blare my favorite Christmas song on my way to work every morning – Unspeakable Joy – and my coworkers always ask why I am in such an exceptionally good mood lately.

Or why, when it comes time to give, we all give big. We buy toys for children that we will never meet, and donate food to families we may never know, and say prayers for everyone who may be alone.

I wish for memories – to be shared and to be made.

It’s why I like putting up the family Christmas tree – because digging out the Christmas decorations, sorting the branches, and untangling the lights is half of the fun.

And why I take my time hanging all of my ornaments on my side of the tree – because each one has a story and was, at one time, a favorite.

 My 1/3 of the family tree.

And why I adore when my sister comes to my condo to help me decorate my own place.

Because putting up a tree while using only one arm would have been quite difficult. 

And why I love holiday crafts that will tell stories for years to come.

They say things like: “I made this one night with my mom.” Or “This hung in my first home.” Or “This was the first Christmas decoration that I ever owned.”

And why I mix in a little bit of “old” with the new – because it reminds me of Christmases in Granny and Pa’s den – passing out brown paper sacks full of fruit and nuts while laughing at Pa for sneaking into his presents out of turn.

The star from Granny and Pa’s tree.

The star actually hung from the wall behind the Christmas tree. I never did ask why...

I'm on the bottom right in the reindeer handprint shirt (that I wish I still owned).

I wish for time. Something so valuable that we don’t just give it, we spend it. Because today is the oldest that I have ever been and the youngest that I will ever be again. This time and this place and this moment. It is my treasure.

Its why having surgery on my arm isn’t quite so bad when it means more dinners around the table, more visits from friends, and more phone calls from people who are a part of my heart.

 A Sleep CD and Dream Catcher from a sweet friend

Get Well Soon balloons just to make me smile. They did.

And it's why I look forward to every time that I meet with my 8th grade girls at church.

It’s why I say “Yes.” more than “No.” and ignore a To-Do list to hang out with friends and stay up late to talk on the phone to friends far away.

It’s why I make sure that everyone that I love knows just how much they mean to me. And why when something is on my heart – a compliment, a memory, a “You mean the world to me” - I share it. Because I wish for time, but I will never know how much of it we have.

And I wish for Jesus, Himself.

For the world to see and love Him this Christmas season.

I wish for Him to be welcomed in our world.

And, as always, I wish for the thrill of hope that makes the weary world rejoice.

1 comment:

  1. I love the anticipation of Christmas. It's such a sweet reminder of what my heart should be anticipating. It realigns my focus if I'll let it.

    Also, I still have that reindeer shirt. We made those with Mrs. Linda in 1st grade. I saw it couple months ago when my mom was cleaning out a closet or something.