“31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Ephesians 5:31 (NLT)
Forty seven years ago, Dale and I were preparing for our first Christmas together as a married couple. We were in our first apartment and preparing to move into our second apartment on the 26th of December. Emotions were high as we had just received orders for Yokosuka, Japan the following April.
I think Dale started buying me things in early November, and he could not wait to give them to me. Each night coming home from work, he would meet me at the door and excitedly tell me of something he’d bought. He would be anxious to give it to me and before I could take off my shoes, he would be bringing an unwrapped gift to me.
He was so cute and I had to urge him to keep something for me to actually open on Christmas day.
I was no better. That year I got him a race track, complete with a stick shifter, and bank curve. It was huge.
I did wait though, for the actual day to give it to him.
I had dreams of us picking out our first tree together, but, he was able to go to a section of the base where he cut down our first tree. It was a huge Charlie Brown tree. With our one string of lights and one package of ornaments,it was very bare. The dollar angel we had hidden at a store until payday so we could buy it, perched precariously on the top branch.
But, after it was decorated, we thought it was the most beautiful tree ever.
Christmas day came and we were like kids on that day. At the end of the day, the presents were all in boxes, the tree was down and outside on the curb. The next day we put everything into our new apartment and left for a late celebration of Christmas with our families.
The first Christmas with just the two of us passed quickly. Little did we know that it would be our last Christmas actually spent in our hometown. Neither did we realize how special that Christmas was for us. Being newlyweds, we were still in the glow of youth, and marriage that was not difficult. We were carefree, and looking forward to all the possibilities of what the future held for us.
Forty seven years later, we are older (obviously), and we show the bumps and bruises of life. We think fondly on all our past Christmases. Some very festive and full of gifts and laughter, some a bit leaner, some with just I.O.U.’s under the tree. What was consistent on Christmas was the celebration of the birth of our Lord. He was with us through each and every Christmas, the full, the lean, and the empty.
His love was what has held us together, sometimes only His love. Christmas is a time for reflection. The ornaments we hang each have a story. The decorations could tell stories if they could talk.
Each corner of each room hold memories, Christmas and throughout the years. As I sit writing this, so many memories of Christmases past race through my mind. The time has passed much quicker than I thought possible. Each Christmas has been the most beautiful, most wonderful, they blend together. In each thought, though, is the glue that has made Christmas wonderful, my family. The same silly stories, the jokes, the laughter over memories, the smiles over gifts, the ahh’s of favorite candy given. The excitement over stockings. All of those harmonizing together and threading through each memory.
Thank You Lord for the precious gift of You, and the reason for this season.