So I haven't really been excited about Christmas this year. What I love most about Christmas is being with my family. That sounds cliche because most people want to be with their families for Christmas, but up until now I've taken it for granted. It has always been the norm for me to be with my family but this year is different. For most of this month my feelings have been pretty neutral about Christmas this year, but as it draws closer I realize I'd prefer to just skip over it. Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful for the incarnation. Nothing brings me more joy than to know that God became a man in order to have a relationship with me, and no relationship is more important to me than the one I share with Him. But celebrating our Savior with the people on Earth that I cherish the most adds so much the to joy of Christmas. I knew I would miss out on things when I obeyed God's call to go to Korea. I knew I would miss dinners around the table with my family on the weekends. I knew I would miss friends vowing to love another forever. I knew I would miss other friends beaming with pride as they welcomed new life into the world. But my first Christmas away from home is proving to be difficult. You've heard it said that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but what about absence making the heart break? I spent today Christmas shopping, wrapping Christmas presents, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies and baking Christmas cookies. All of these things I love to do under normal circumstances. But doing them without the people I love the most isn't enjoyable. During all of this 'Christmas' today I tried to pinpoint exactly what it is that I enjoy doing with my family so much, and I scrolled through my mind and went over all of the seasonal activities that my family shares and realized I could not rank one over another. I love shopping with my mom and sisters, and wrapping presents with them as well. I enjoy purposely making a mess while baking cookies and sneaking cookie dough when mom's not looking, and sometimes when she is. I love the smell that fills the house when we bring home the Christmas tree that took hours to pick out because everyone has an opinion of what the perfect tree looks like, even though we all know we want mom to be the one to make the decision because she loves Christmas trees so much. I love going down memory lane as we decorate the tree and talk about previous Christmas's and look at all the ornaments Granny has given us over the years while I pretend to be jealous that Jon Marc will always have one more than me because he is one year older, even though I wouldn't trade a million Christmas ornaments for the blessing of having an older brother. I miss listening to Christmas music in the house, in the car, in every store I go in, hoping that they will play 'I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas' or 'Redneck 12 days of Christmas' I love getting excited anticipating family coming in town and watching 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'Charlie Brown Christmas' and 'Miracle on 34th Street' and of course 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' I always love driving through town to look at Christmas lights and then up to Lake Lanier for the Magical Nights of Lights. I miss staying up til 4am talking with my mom, sisters and aunts. I miss playing games whether it be Rummikub with Granny, or cards or Monopoly or any of the other thousands of games we own. I love watching the pantry door fill up with Christmas cards from dear friends or people we only hear from once a year. I miss going to church the whole month of December because we sing Christmas songs and it's decorated beautifully and everyone seems to be happier and we spend time reflecting on baby Jesus and the angels that proclaimed His birth and the fact that He is Immanuel. I even miss mom telling us where to park outside the house because there are so many cars when everyone is over that it looks like a parking lot. I will sorely miss spending Christmas Eve 'sleeping' in my sisters bed which really means staying awake and talking because we are too excited to sleep, and mom reading us the Christmas story, what does 'threw up the sash' mean anyway? Oh there is so much more that I love about Christmas and they all involve at least one member of my family. Like when dad makes the world's best Chex Mix because he knows the perfect m&m to pretzel ratio.
I know that the Lord will give me experiences and lessons here that I will take with me for the rest of my life and that will impact the Kingdom. But in the moments when everything is quiet and I am alone, I desperately miss Dad and Mom, Jon Marc and Melissa, Shannon and Eddie, and Ashton