I hate to be so cliché,
but I am a day late and a dollar short. I meant to get a few more blogs posted
before Christmas, but the first few days after surgery kind-of melded together.
Really, the first few days after any surgery the brain becomes a tad-bit foggy,
to say the least, and all I can say is thank God for coffee; it usually jump-starts
frazzled brains—surgery or no surgery. However, severe physical pain and its
antidote— narcotics have a way of making me not quite like myself. My family
and I never know if I will wake up looking and acting like Medusa or floating
around like Olaf—literally, which would be great then I would not have to worry
about driving. I could just float happily wherever I need to go. But, I am not
allowed to drive and it stinks! I know I am whining. I am completely dependent
upon my husband and seventeen-year-old daughter to drive and/or do errands for
me. I am so completely grateful that they are willing and able. All of which,
has made Christmas quite challenging this year. To be honest, I just wanted to
skip it all together.
First, this is the
first Christmas without my mother. Honestly, I don’t know why it mattered that
much to me, we haven’t had a Christmas together since 2008 and before that 1997.
To go any further just makes my heart ache. Her death actually makes these
facts worse. At least, when she was alive there might be a phone call or not. Somehow that made it okay. I know she is with Christ, and that gives me
great comfort, but it does not make my need for her go away. Plus, all those
years we did miss because of our foolish pride, selfishness, un-forgiveness,
hatred etc. all seem so futile now. Such a waste of life, love, and relationship—gifts given to each one of us by God. Gifts we so easily take for granted.
Secondly, like most
American families right now we are struggling financially. In fact, this has been going on since my husband
retired from the military in November 2011. It is a long story and deserves its
own post. We pray daily
for God to turn things around for us. It seems every time a door
opens, it slams shut again. We do what we can and wait for our prayers to be answered,
but that still makes Christmas challenging. How we are going to be able to afford Christmas?
Last week I awoke with
a gentle whisper that said, “Make memories.” I believe that was the Holy Spirit
whispering in my ears; but for you skeptics, it could have been Olaf. Regardless, I know I heard something that changed my attitude and gave me a direction. I have
four kids, a grandbaby, and a measly Christmas fund; actually, no fund at all. Plus, my kids are older. I can’t go through McDonalds
drive thru anymore and order a Happy Meal just to collect the toys for stocking
stuffers. The kids figured that out years ago.
We would set a dollar
amount and then go shopping. It has worked out well, but this year we couldn’t
even do that. What in the world was I
supposed to do? Especially for two teenagers and a tween? Let alone, my oldest
daughter and her family. Then it occurred to me.
Usually, our plan for Christmas
is just four gifts, plus stocking stuffers.
Make Christmas special by making it simple.
After a while, most of us forget what we got for Christmas last year or the year
before and so on. They grow out of clothes, video games become obsolete as soon as a new one is made etc. Maybe a new approach to Christmas is needed after all.
Like most couples, my husband and I
decided to skip each other this year. We felt what little we had should go to the kids. This I regret,
because our marriage needs some (TLC) or Tender Loving Care. In fact, a reprieve from the constant struggles we face
each day and a reminder of how important we are to each other is really needed.
We thought of all the things we would love to do with them
but cannot afford to do or places we have not had the time to take them to, like basketball
games, plays, etc. I researched all the things that were coming to our area over the next month. I knew the Harlem Globe Trotters were coming to
our area, and our son Charlie is a basketball fanatic. Not only is he fanatic,
but one of his goals is to play college ball. He has been training with some
professional coaches in Cary, N.C., studying the game on a whole new level, as
well as getting ready to play on a travel team. Hmmmm! What are the chances? Turns out, at just the right time tickets
also go on sale. Whooopeee!! We know we cannot send a family of five, but two tickets would
still make some wonderful memories.
I heard the Broadway
musical Wicked was coming to Raleigh,
so I thought I would check it out. It seems musicals go on sale at special
times, but I didn’t stop searching. A few minutes later I discovered that the
ballet, The Nutcracker, was playing and
the tickets were two-for-one. Are you kidding me?? I grabbed two: one for me and one for Summer. After all, she is headed to Messiah College next year to study performing arts and
has never seen a live ballet performance. For that matter, neither have I. Oh boy, first time for parents too!
Now what do I do
with my not-so-little-rug rat? He wants to be Navy Seal…there are no plays for
that. He is a little redneck, who likes to shoot his bow-and-arrow, get muddy,
wants a jacked-up- pick-up truck, or course if has to be camouflaged, and so on. You got it! Monster Jam! It is a coin
toss on who is taking him to that one, either way pray for our ears. Again, the
ticket prices were unbelievable.
My husband and I
went and found three little 'gag' gifts to put inside a decorative box. For Charlie, we found
just a small basketball, Summer, a nutcracker ornament, and Jedidiah, a monster
truck. I have to admit I was worried about how they would respond. When they
first opened their boxes they were slightly confused, but when we told them
what went with those little boxes their faces lit up like a Christmas tree. In
fact, they loved the idea and all three are so excited. We still had enough
left over for our grandbaby, his mom and dad, and Christmas cards for extended family and friends. I would liked to have done more but I have to be okay with what we could do.
I thought our
meager means would ruin Christmas, but it taught us something really special about Christmas.
My heart aches that I have no memories of my mother and Christmas.
Nothing I can pull out from my memory data bank and mull over when I am missing her. I do have a bracelet
she bought me once for Christmas. I received it in the mail. I am thankful for
it, but honestly, it is not the same as the memory I have of her when I gave her
my bible or the more recent memories of her this past year.
I was so nervous
about how the kids would respond, plus I am still a little loopy—okay, a lot—
that I forgot to take pictures Christmas morning, but the memory of that morning
is etched in my mind forevermore, and I have the camera ready for the days of
the events. For them, it will be something they can look back on and remember how wonderful a truly Simply & Meek Christmas is and what gifts are really important. For us, the gift of each other outweighs everything else. Also, we were reminded that Christmas is about the gift on of just ONE. HIS presence changes everything.
Merry Christmas to you and yours! We pray you enjoy the presence of one another and the memories that you make will bring peace and joy to your hearts for a life time. Most of all, we pray that the presence of Christ fills your hearts with love, joy, and peace. Through HIM, I pray that you will experience the beauty of another.
May the joy of Christmas spill into each and every day afterwards.
With love the Coon Family!
Labels: Christian, God, Grace Filled Family, Just Turn The Page