o be honest, I am working at getting back into the holiday traditions. In the last four years we’ve gone through the motions of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but my heart was not completely in it. As my regular readers will know, two weeks before Christmas, four years ago, our 16 year old son, Matthew, died tragically in our home from the “choking game”. Just days before he died, he had bought me a Christmas tree from where he worked and helped me put it up. We put it behind our piano, but it was not quite tall enough, so he got me milk crates to make it appear taller. That tree actually stayed up for several years, and finally, when we repainted our room, it got taken down, and stuck in the attic. It’s not gone back up.
Just a month before Matthew left, Lynnette’s daughter also went to heaven. November 19th was four years Anna has been gone, and Lynnette remembered her so preciously in this blog post. I love how this family has taken sorrow and worked at making it joyful. Below is an excert from this post:
“Anna Gabrielle, today we won’t focus on the morning you died, but the morning you inherited ABUNDANT LIFE. We’ll put the Christmas tree up in your honor and we’ll remember the night we put the tree up just two nights before you died . . . The beauty of our tree and the joy it brings will just be a glimpse of what you experience every day in your beautiful home.”
This has greatly encouraged me, and I’ve talked to my husband and children about it. I hate to celebrate Matthew’s death – to be honest because of the stupidity of what he did – but yet, I know without a doubt that he went from doing something dumb, to being made whole and complete, and is in God’s presence forever. He does not have the tears we have, and he celebrates Jesus’ life everyday. So, I can celebrate Matthew’s LIFE in heaven, and we hope to do so. It won’t be without tears. But we have to do something different with this day.
Our lives are in a new normal, and for the most part, I can say, it’s good. There is joy again. I don’t dread getting up. I laugh. I cry. But the tears dry much quicker. For Thanksgiving, it will be a time of thankfulness with our immediate family – our ten children. Our door is open to others, and some may join us. We always have cinnamin rolls in the morning and this year I plan to add to that and have more of a brunch while we continue our tradition watching the Macy’s parade. Dinner will be in the evening. I get out my good China (which I had done for the first time with my children, the Thanksgiving before Matthew left). We get the sparkling juice for the pretty goblets. There’s plenty to eat, and be thankful for. And, we will go around the table and “bless” the person next to us, sharing ways that person is important to us and why we are thankful for him/her. (There’s usually some giggles and silliness here too!)
The last two years we have attempted to participate in an advent devotional, The Glorious Coming ~ A Jesse Tree Advent Celebration by Ann Voskamp. For several weeks now, my younger children have asked when we will be starting this. We have a special tree made of pine cones we hang a small ornament on for each day, from this book. (Someday I hope to make these ornaments by cross-stitching them.) We’ve not always kept up with doing it every day – but there is this year – and we will try again! We do not get a lot of gifts, and mainly do a family gift for the children (games, books, movies) so it’s things that bring us together. We make an angel food cake as our birthday cake for Jesus. For our Christmas dinner, I bring some of my Christmas traditions from my growing up, including a German schaum torte dessert which my aunt brought to our house every Christmas as I was growing up. We also have Baklava, after meeting my birthparents shortly after my husband and I were married, and finding out I am very a strong Greek background.
Well, this is a long rambling of my heart . . . I look forward to sharing with others.
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