Christmas provides us with many memories

By Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist

We have lived in the same house for 43 years. Every rock and every tree in the yard has a story.

If I sit in my swing long enough and listen hard enough, I can hear basketballs dribbling and skateboards skating. “Look Dad, I can do this with one hand!”

I reminisce as I walk around the yard. “Look Mom! Remember when we got stuck in the sand hunting a turtle rock? Dad went for help and while he was gone Mark and Lane filled the back of the truck with rocks and just as Dad drove up with help, you drove the pickup out of the sand. Dad looked funny.”

I see the place where our butane tank used to be … where Lance hid behind it when we thought he had run away. His daddy smothered him with kisses and assured him that no one could ever take his place in the family.

I see white paint on the red brick wall where Mark and Lance had a paint fight and a paddling.

My trees are bare and from my vantage point they look dead and lifeless. I am tempted to say, “Goodbye for now. I’m going to miss you. But even though I’ll look out my window and see you bleak and lonely tossing to and fro with the bitterness of winter, still I know that you are alive. I know that when spring comes, you will resurrect with a “beautiful garment of beauty.” I say the same thing when a child of God goes home.

I think of those who have lost loved ones and this will be the first Christmas without them. Yet when we lay that loved one in that cold, hard ground of clay, I know that body will resurrect one glorious day. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)

From all appearances that body is dead, but just like my trees, I know there is life and that life will resurrect when Jesus comes.

Every year when I decorate for Christmas, I see little holes in the walls from previous Christmases. They leave a mark on the wall. I call them happy “scars.” One wall still has the height marks of three growing boys so lovingly made there by their dad.

They, like our trees, have grown tall and stately. In life we have scars in our lives at times. I read somewhere that when Jesus returns for us, he will not be looking for medals, but for scars of sacrifices and love. Yes, it hurts to love. Who knows that better than Jesus, but where would we be without him?

The Christian life is one of growth and maturity. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

Our house bulges when we are all home, but so does our joy and our love. Our small dining room is full to running over, but so are the memories. When each one leaves, they start holding hands and bowing their heads. They know when they leave this house there will be prayers … prayers of safety, protection, favor and security. Did I mention tears? Our granddaughter Traci is almost 19 now, but still remembers saying when 7 years old, “Mawmaw is a Christian because she cries a lot!”

After 43 years our yard is too big and our house is too big, but it is just right for loved ones to come home for Christmas, birthdays, picnics and love. Our house is home and there is something about coming home that warms the heart.

May this Christmas bring you warmth, love and joy. May it bring a time of reflection of what Christmas truly is.

Merry Christmas everyone!