Sunday, January 4, 2015

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I remember being a little kid and looking forward to this day like there was not another thing to bring so much excitement in the whole world.  It seemed like the day would just drag on and on until time to leave for Mamaw and Papaw's.  I spent time coloring and keeping up with where Santa was headed and where he had already been on my favorite Christmas website,  I always looked at the countdown clock, found coloring pages to print out, wrote Santa a letter, always amazed by how quickly he responded, and looked through pictures of the North Pole.  Since I've gotten older, things aren't quite the same.  I definitely don't have to worry about any day dragging out; the time passes faster than I can count it!  I'm not so concerned with all my new toys I'll get, but with the feelings that come from celebrating and the joy that comes from Christ.

While working on a poem for a multi-genre essay for English, I remembered a poem that I had written several years ago about Christmas and decided to go find the old notebook that I had written it in.  Reading back over it, I realized how true those things still are years later.
Christmas is the best time of the year!
Can you believe it’s already here?
Minds are running wild.
Memories of being a young child
Receiving the toys,
Filled with simple joys,
Wondering what goodies Santa would bring that night.
The Christmas morning sight
Fills everyone with delight.
Only crumbs of cookies for Santa and munchies for the deer
Left to show that he really was here.
Memories made on these days
Will stay with me always.
But now that I’m older
With more knowledge on my shoulder,
I can realize there’s more:
“Christmas doesn’t come from a store.”*
Santa and his elves
Are just decorations on the shelves.
Another character actually steals the show.
This is a beautiful truth that I know.
Once a long time ago
God promised His Son
Would come and be the One
To die to save us from sin
Then come alive once again
While still being human like you and me.
Virgin Mary met an angel
Who said her son would be Immanuel.
Although she and Joseph weren’t yet married,
By God the baby would be carried.
They left for Bethlehem to be counted,
But a crowd at the inn had already amounted
Leaving the expecting couple in the stable.
That night Jesus was born.
Shepherds and angels came to adorn
And worship the Savior, Prince of Peace,
King of Kings, the true centerpiece.
Jesus is the reason
For the season.
I pray that today
We all remember the way
This glorious holiday came to be.
Not about you and not about me.
Please don’t lose sight
Of that beautiful night,
But share the true joy of a gift we can never lose.
*From the book/movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
I don't get to go to my Mamaw and Papaw's house as often as I would like to, but every time I do, I wish I could stay longer!  When I was younger, I would spend the night, and I miss those peaceful days!  Out in the country, you can't help but relax.  I've always thought Mamaw was a great cook, too.  She doesn't think it's anything special, but that's okay; it doesn't have to be.  I think everything tastes better when it comes homemade from family.  No lie, though, her vegetables and pies are what I look forward to more than presents when we go to visit!  Now she makes extra of the things she knows I love, just for me.  Two years ago, I went down to their house extra early on Christmas Eve so I could help cook everything and get some of her recipes.  I've got the one for her pies (sweet potato--my favorite-- pumpkin, and squash) that I hope I can make as good as hers to share with my family in the future!
(Green beans, corn, ham, and carrots aren't the only foods Mamaw and Papaw fix, but that's all that would fit on my plate at the time.  They also make some killer broccoli casserole, cornbread, dressing/stuffing or whatever you want to call it, and mashed potatoes.  She also makes oatmeal pie and two flavors of fudge.  My dad isn't a big veggie pie person, so she buys a key lime pie or homemakes a lemon meringue pie for him to have with his fudge.  Grandparents are just so sweet and thoughtful!)
On Christmas Eve, I always get a little start on the gifts that I will get for the year.  It's not a lot, just from the grandparents, but that's enough to add suspense to the holiday!
My Papaw knows that I like to get little goodies from him, and this time he hit the bulls eye!  I am not a candy person, but the one candy I can't get enough of is candy corn!  Thankfully, it's not just a Halloween treat anymore either.  There's this little Amish market in Bulls Gap, not too far from where they live in Whitesburg, called Yoders that my Papaw shops at a lot.  I've been wanting to go there for a long time, and it is on my bucket list!  Local stores always have some of the neatest, handy, and unique items.  This time, he gave me a whole container of holiday candy corn and even had some different shaped candy corn!  I had never seen any that wasn't in the 3-color triangle, but these were in trees, snowmen, and bells!
These are the superstars!
Granannie doesn't get to go out much anymore, but we all were really hoping that she would feel up to coming to Christmas Eve with us.  We picked her up and dropped her back off that night no trouble!  It wouldn't have been too fun at Regency on Christmas Eve, so I'm so glad she got to visit with us!
Regency definitely got the place decorated really nice!  This snowman was there to greet us at the front door.
I loved this simple sign, reminding us that we should be filled with the spirits that Christmas gives us all year long.  That would make this world such a more wonderful place.
Seeing this town scene set up reminded me of the ones we used to have at home.  Mom got rid of all those decorations many years ago, but I always enjoyed looking at (and sometimes playing with) the wintery scene.  
As we were heading out, I could see this gorgeous, huge tree lighting up the dining room.  This is the best Christmas decoration picture I got all year!
People just love to give Granannie gifts and snacks, but she just can't use and eat them all, so she let's me go through and take what I want.  This little muffin was dried up, but it made an awesome decoration, so I took it home to put with my gingerbread house!  Whoever made these was so creative.  It's a chocolate-cherry, Hershey Kiss mouse!
The icing on the cake...the Christmas to the Eve...well, actually,
the Christ to the Christmas!
Ever since I can remember, it has been family tradition to read the Christmas Story together before I go to bed on Christmas Eve.  Once I got old enough to read well, Mom and Dad let me take over the reading.  No matter how old I get, it still gives a sense of peace to the night, just as Christ was born to give peace to the world.
"For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.  And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6
"...I bring you good news of great joy that will be to all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord...Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."  Luke 2:10-11, 13
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins...they will call him Immanuel--which means 'God with us.'"  Matthew 1:21, 23
How sweet it is to celebrate the Savior who gives us all these wonderful things that come along with Christmas.  I am so glad to have come to understand that there is more to Christmas than getting gifts.  I am proud to say that I have received the greatest gift anyone could ever ask for, and it will never spoil, get boring, break, need new batteries, run out of gas, need replacement or repair, or become too small to wear.  He fits in my heart and soul all year long.  All it takes is faith.
"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" 
2 Corintians 9:15