ChristmasI love the smells of Christmas.
Douglas Fir, Pine scented candles, Cinnamon Cider, Turkey and cookies in the oven. It truly is a magical time that is always precious in it’s own way. Every family has those special years of Christmas where everything is so perfect it looks like a Hallmark card.
Then there are those years when a family burden is so heavy you just want to get through the days and really wish everyone would just stop singing.
My Dad died just a few days after Thanksgiving 7 years ago. December 2, 2002 actually. The shock and sadness of our family was palatable that Christmas season. Our grief was sudden, deep and fresh. To make matters worse, both of our married sons were scheduled to be in Georgia for Christmas. One was set to spend time with in-law relatives and the other, our adventurer, was going camping!
My husband and I could not bear to spend Christmas without them so we packed our daughter into the car along with a tiny table top Chritsmas tree and a few stings of lights. You would have to know me well to understand how big that was. My children and friends sometimes accuse me of “throwing up Christmas” :0). I have been known to decorate 4 trees!!
We headed to a cabin in Vogel State Park, located in the North Georgia Mountains, a place that holds lots of sweet family vacation memories and was the camping destination of our oldest son.
We had never NOT been at home for Christmas in our entire married life.
We have “routines” that look the same each year and include our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. This year just seemed so sad, we could not bear to do the same things we always did with out my Dad in the picture.
We had no idea how this journey would go.
We got to our tiny two room log cabin and set up our little tree on a small coffee table. We draped lights around the fireplace mantle and every window. We built a beautiful little fire in the fireplace and plopped into the rocking chairs that demanded positions of honor directly in front of the flames and wondered how we might survive our grief.
We spent the next few days going for long chilly walks and visiting charming little mountain towns that looked like ones we had only seen in Thomas Kinkaid art. It was nothing like the hustle and bustle of a Florida Christmas in Tampa surrounded by parties, people we know and lots of kid noise. We actually had on jackets, gloves and hats. We normally wear shorts to Christmas dinner at home. Nice ones but shorts none-the-less.
Our sons were coming to the cabin for Christmas dinner so on Christmas Eve, to the sounds and warmth of the fire a short arms length away. I prepared a big fat turkey to slip into the tiny little cabin stove and set the table with tears running down my face.
I felt so bad for having left my sisters and my Mom to deal with our first Christmas without Daddy. What was I thinking??
In spite of it all, the peace and sweet presence of God filled that little mountain cabin and I had a sense that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
On Christmas morning our daughter woke us up squealing for us to look out the window. That in itself was enough to get our attention. Her normal Christmas wake up call is “Can I open my presents?” She pulled us from the warm covers of our bed, which mind you, was right in front of the fireplace behind the rocking chairs. We are talking small little cabin in the woods!
To our utter joy, we opened the door of the cabin to find that during the night snow had covered the ground, the cabin tops,the cars, the trees, the mountains.
It was a Winter Wonderland. The three of us grabbed hats and coats and gloves and ran out into the lighly falling snow. Our oldest son was camping nearby in his RV with our 2 grandsons and our Daughter in Love. It wasn’t long before our 2nd born son arrived with his bride. Before we knew it all of us were “frolicking” in the snow!
“Frolicking” was something I had not done in years (if ever before)–much less in the SNOW on Christmas Day!!!
I still remember the moment that I stopped still in the snow and listened to the snow fall and smelled the smell of fires burning and trees and winter woods all around me. The scripture verse “Be Still and Know that I am God” filled my heart and would later be recorded in my journal. I thought of my Daddy and my heart filled with the love of my Abba Father and His precious Christmas gift to us.
One of my Dad’s favorite quips was “You have to take the bitter with the sweet”. How true those words became that Christmas morning.
Today,December 2, 2009, as I smell Christmas coming alive in my house, I am remembering how different a Christmas can smell from one year to the next.
If you are living a year that makes you wonder where is the “Joy” in the World? I encourage you to take some time to “Be Still” and Smell God! He has not forsaken you. He NEVER will. Our Heavenly Father sent His son into the world so that we would never ever forget His passionate love.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16