Life Lesson #108 ~ Christmas' Past

"Today's MOMENTS are tomorrow's MEMORIES." ~ Anonymous

Do you ever wish you could go back and re-live a moment? Maybe you've pulled out a few old pictures from your childhood or your child's childhood and thought to yourself, "I just want 5 minutes minutes." Christmas time especially evokes those feelings for me. I'd love to go back when the boys were little, and scope them up in to my arms again, kiss their little cheeks and delight in their Christmas morning joy. Honestly how many times do we reflect on Christmas' past longing for those 5 extra minutes? How many times do we "smell a certain, familiar scent and suddenly remember a small part of our childhood?" Often is my bet.

Christmas time in our home has always been a warm, homespun, family affair. As a little girl Christmas was magical. Our tree was always glimmering with gold garland, red balls, our German ornaments and our family star high a top. Gifts were beautifully wrapped waiting under the tree and stockings hung filled to the brim on Christmas morning. Growing up an only child I can't lie, Santa and my parents were good to me. I can still feel the excitement building as my parents had me waiting in the hallway taking inventory of Santa's treasures and making note of how many cookies he had eaten or if some of his beard had gotten stuck on the coco mug. I still feel the joy inside of finding a Barbie dream house, a kitchenette, roller skates, a ballerina tutu and of course Strawberry Shortcake and her friends waiting for me Christmas morning under our tree. But more importantly I remember the feeling of gratefulness, of being loved and singing happy birthday to Jesus.  And honestly none of that changed when it came to my kiddos 24 years later. Of course Johnny and I decorate our family tree differently than my parents did, but our star still sits, shining high a top our tree, a signal of Christ's love for us. The boys tend to eat Santa's cookies for him these days and the gifts and stockings are long unwrapped and spilled out before Christmas morning. Still our Christmas'are just as magical and warm as I remember.

When I look back on Christmas' past I see love and happiness. I see a close family, real as real gets, full of imperfections but happy and full of joy. Sure we may have lost our way a few years back but that hasn't diminished who we are or our love for one another. If anything it's made us stronger, forged our bonds tighter. No, Christmas around here is not a Hallmark channel or Martha Stewart special but it is warm, inviting and about down to earth just as cornbread and greens on a chilly day in the South. It's funny, Joshua brought this point home just last night while we were watching Krampus. Micah was feeling "mad" seeing the family disrespect the mom's efforts and I was feeling exhausted watching her go through all that to make everyone happy. I laughed when Joshua piped in saying, " Thank you mom for not making our Christmas' like that. I like them simple, just like ours." And what I realized in that moment is nothing ever really goes unnoticed or unappreciated. Childhood and Christmas are part of us, our past, our present and yes our futures. It just comes down to how we want our holidays to be spent or our memories made... in purgatory, re-living our worst nightmare or in peace, thankful for those we love. As Scrooge once said, "I wear the chain I forged myself in life...I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it." Maybe an old tale we half consciously watch during the holidays, but a lesson we should all take more notice of. Remember these are the moments, the memories that link us all together, affixing our hearts as a family. And so for us, the Dowling - Olachia family no matter where the years take us, our Christmas' past will always bring me, my parents, my hubby and our children back to those joyous simple times we all want 5 more minutes more of.

Life may be uncharted. It may not be easy, we may even feel we weren't given a fair shake but the truth is life is not not un-navigational. We may want that Martha Stewart Christmas but maybe its more about the gift of the magi .Deuteronomy 26:11 says ,"Be grateful for the good things that the Lord your God has given you and your family; " And so this is where I focus my thoughts today in Life Lesson #108 ~ Christmas' Past. It doesn't matter what the past held be it joy or contempt, what matters is where you focus your heart once the page has turned. We all live and learn, our past may be a source of great strength or pain. Our past can either tighten our chains or break them. The choice is ours. We can live live in purgatory or we can start again. As Scrooge says after he has been visited by all three ghosts of the past, the present and the future, " I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons they teach." I implore you this year let your Christmas be a time of peace, of joy with your family. We can't re-live our past, no matter how good it was. We can't go back and get a do over because it wasn't a Hallmark stamped Christmas. Let's not feel "the future started yesterday and we're already late." (John Legend) Instead let's start today and appreciate all we have making brand new memories. And so I wish you and yours a merry, merry Christmas. I pray your holidays are joyous, peaceful, warm and inviting just like cornbread and greens on a chilly Southern day.

"God bless us, every one." ~ Charles Dickins, A Christmas Carol

~ Christina


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