My oldest and dearest Christmas memories go back to Granny Dunn's house on Christmas Eve.
Let me just say, I LOVED being with my Granny. She is the first person I remember talking to me about Jesus. She died twice and came back, and I would always ask her to tell me about the times she went to heaven.
I wish I had her on video recounting it to me. I wish I could remember the vivid details she would smile and cry and tell me. I can remember sitting at her feet on the floor, holding her leg, and her telling me the same two accounts over and over. At this point, I don't remember a lot of the details, but I remember being with her.
She absolutely propelled me into my relationship with Jesus, even if I didn't understand it all then. At her deathbed, I felt the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit. Even with my eyes closed as we were all in prayer, I knew the moment her spirit left her body and I opened my eyes. It is one of the most powerful experiences of my life to date. To say she impacted me as the woman I have become is an understatement.
My Granny loved, gave, nurtured and comforted like few people I know. She laughed and cut up with us. She welcomed anyone into her life and they all came to call her Granny. She sent cards to EVERYBODY in her life...personal, sweet, thoughtful, kind, and on-time cards. That was her ministry.
I think I love Christmastime so much because I associate it so much with Granny. On Christmas Eve, all her living 8 children would bring all their children and come home to her tiny house.
We packed in there like sardines and sweated bullets! We had to suck in our guts and squeeze by one another just to get through the halls. We had a constant waiting line for the one bathroom. We filled every one of the 5 rooms.
The noise was crazy. The food overflowed. Wrapping paper would literally cover the living room floor. There was always a kid banging on that piano! I loved the years when Granny would play and sing carols with us grandkids.
It never failed, one of the older cousins or an uncle would spot an airplane in the sky out the backdoor and yell for the little ones to run and see Rudolph leading Santa's sleigh.
Those were fun years! I am so blessed to be filled with such sweet memories. And I am so blessed to have an ornament from my Granny from nearly every year.
an angel from my Granny...my favorite
When I was really little, I remember being a bit let down when I opened her gift and it was "just" an ornament. As I grew though, and realized how little my dear Granny had, I came to be very thankful for her thoughtfulness to all of us.
this little stocking makes me tear up every year when I see it
a bunny from my Great Aunt Pauline, Granny's sister; this was the one I remember getting super excited to find in the box and put on the tree when I was little
Now, as I am quickly reaching "middle age," I treasure these connections to my past and loved ones with all my heart, and I am so tremendously grateful that my Mom has continued this tradition for me and my sons. It fills my heart with happiness to hear my boys say, "Mom, did you get our ornament for this year yet? Can we open it?" I love that they want it...that it means something to them.
sock monkeys made a comeback this year and I thought these three were super cute so I bought them and embroidered the boys' initial and the year on them
I guess that is why I really enjoy having a tree. It isn't just a pretty decoration to me, though I appreciate beautiful things and have fun making things look nice. A tree definitely isn't something I worship. It is simply something to hang pegs of our life on and remember.
It is part of our story...our heritage and our legacy in little symbols.
I wanted to chronicle some of them here. I hope they cause you to reflect on the special things from your past...or inspire you to make some special traditions your children can connect to in the future.
Some my boys have made over the years:
Garrison, age 4, first year of school
Alex, age 6; the year he fell in love with penguins
Garrison, age 9
Alex, age 10, while helping with the preschool class at church
Some I have made for them:
Trey, age 5
Some other people have made for them:
Alex, age 6, from his dear Ms. Sandy
Some remind us of special moments or seasons of life:
the year we were married
for Alex from Didi, first Christmas
for Garrison from Didi, age 4, first year of soccer & he was #4
for Trey from Didi, age 10, for his martial arts
Some just remind me of things my kids enjoyed:
the year of the Webkinz
the year of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
the year of Beanie Babies
one that Alex just loved that Didi had on her tree
Trey, age 1, loved Elmo
Some are variations of the same theme my Mom
gets me every year:
I love the angels because I absolutely believe angels were created by God to minister to us as heirs of salvation and they are with us
Though I don't believe angels look like this, I do love what these pretty little creations symbolize...beauty, majesty, power, help, provision, protection, worship, praise, messages from God
I also love that they are from my Mom and remind me of her and my dad, who have always watched over me on earth and whose love and dedication has, I believe, helped me to receive the love of the Father who I cannot see.
(Those little ice skates are from my sweet Laura. She brought them to me from NYC last year and they remind me to cherish genuine friendship and never give up on my dreams.)
from Tom's mom to me several years ago
This one reminds me of her and her steadfast faith. My life is changed because I married her son. This reminds me to stay the course, for in due time, I shall reap the reward!
Some are just silly and make us laugh:
the most ridiculous symbol of Christmas ever, but it cracks every man I know up!
Some point us back to the most important thing: