Spreading The Christmas Joy

December 17, 2015

 

I was recently asked to submit a post for Emilie Hendryx for her blog titled Spreading the Christmas Joy. It was meant to be an inspirational tale based on one of my memories of Christmas. I wrote two and after gaining the opinion of a few close to me, this is the one I chose. I am adding the rejected post to the end so that you may choose for yourself which one you like the best. 

 

Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

If you ask my kids what their most memorable Christmas was, you may be surprised by their answer. It was the year they only got three gifts apiece. And these were not big gifts either. Money has always been tight around here. We were usually able to make ends meet with just a little left over for the fun, nonessential things, but this one Christmas—we were broke.

I don’t remember what I got them that year. I did the best I could but when I looked at the small pile of gifts, I felt horrible. I explained the situation to the kids. They seemed to understand. There had been hard times before. The closer to Christmas, the worse I felt. It wasn’t until Christmas Eve night after the kids went to bed that a plan hit me, one that might make things seem a little better.

I went outside in my PJ’s with a flashlight and hid all of the gifts. I stayed up late drawing up maps and giving clues that would lead them all over the house and yard before finally leading them to their gifts. I didn’t sleep well. I still felt sick when we all got up the next morning. There was a shocked look on their faces when they searched beneath the tree for the three measly gifts I had told them to expect and found nothing. I wondered if I had made a huge mistake. They were teenagers after all. They might have thought it was the stupidest idea ever.

I handed them each a page and explained that we were having a treasure hunt and their faces lit up. We all ended up outside. My husband and I watched as they went off in different directions. One would find a gift and the others would come running to see what they had gotten. They went back to searching for their own gifts with more excitement than they felt before.

At first I thought they were just acting excited to make me feel better, but it lasted for the rest of that day—long after the gifts were forgotten. They told the story of the treasure hunt over and over as we visited with family that day. As a matter of fact, they still talk about it and remember it as the best Christmas they ever had.

That Christmas gave proof to the thing we all know deep in our hearts, even when we forget at times. It is not about the gifts. Yes, it is first and foremost a time of celebrating the ultimate Gift of Jesus Christ. But it is also about love shared with family and friends. It is a time for joy and fellowship.

 

Here is the post that did not make it. I think maybe it was too sad for the title, but I think it is more heartfelt. Let me know what you think.

 

I miss my daddy the most at Christmastime. He was the type to stay up all night on Christmas Eve just so he could play with our toys before we got to them. And his favorite pastime used to be teasing us kids.

One of my earliest memories is of him standing in the hallway outside my bedroom door the night before my second Christmas while he pulled the string on my Mrs. Beasley doll. I was trapped in my crib with my fingers wrapped around the rails saying, “I hear that.” Then I could hear his laughter. I can almost hear it still.

 By the end of 2011, Daddy had been fighting cancer for seven years. I remember looking at him and thinking, this Christmas will be his last. I was not wrong. What I thought would happen was that he would wait until after the holidays to sit us down and tell us that he had decided to not take any more chemo. He was tired and the treatments were starting to do more harm than good. I had seen others suffer through the last stages of cancer before. I dreaded what was to come more than I dreaded that talk.

If that is what he had planned to do, he never got a chance. A few weeks after Christmas, he died instantly from a heart attack. I believe he was gone before he even knew what was happening. I cannot stress enough what a blessing it was not to see him suffer to the bitter end with cancer. Another blessing was walking into his bedroom and seeing his Bible and study guide open beside his bed.

I still have that Mrs. Beasley doll from so many Christmases ago. A good portion of her hair is missing, her cloth body has been patched up many times, and she no longer talks. My daughter tells me how creepy she is and I joke about leaving her the doll in my will. But when I look at that doll, I think of the comfort she brought me as a child, and of my daddy’s laughter. I know I will see him again someday and that is truly the best gift he has ever given me.

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