Whew. Almost everything on my list has been crossed off except for some last minute baking and goodie-making. Granted, there were some shortcuts taken, some help given, some gift-giving simplified, some traditions skipped (just for this year.) My preparations for Christmas this year have been de-stressed, and I have to admit—it feels pretty good, and I am trying not to feel guilty about it!
My trip to California the first week of December kind of put Christmas on hold. By the time I got home there were less than two weeks left to get in the groove. Bob surprised me by having the Christmas tree already up and decked out with almost 1000 lights. It looked so pretty, and Bob and Robbie were enjoying it so much without the three hundred or so ornaments I usually put on that I decided to just skip the ornaments and other decorations this year and call it good! Gasp! Shock! I love our ornaments! They are each special and tied in to many memories of our life and children and grandchildren. How could I??? Well, I did, and next year it will be so much more fun to get those ornaments out and hang them on the tree! And don’t worry, Robbie and I have definitely enjoyed the Christmas spirit in this house with all the Christmas music, story-reading playing with his musical Christmas toys, and enjoying the twinkling, colorful lights! He has been a happy boy!
Then there was the mad rush of shopping for gifts. Actually, no “mad rush” this year! I did a little shopping for Julie’s family before I left for California to visit them, and a little more after I got there, and I did some internet shopping for the first time (so simple and so nice to be able to have the gifts shipped directly to them!) Gift-giving for the Naranjos in Ecuador was simple, as well. They all got cash. Three out of four times when I have tried to mail something to them in recent years, they never receive it. There was no one going down there to take gifts to them, so we just put money in their account for each of them and they can use it however they’d like. Shopping for the rest of the family in Indiana seemed fairly stress-free and I finished it quickly. Whoo-hoo!
Bob took on getting cards written and sent out—the first time in 42 years of marriage! I had declared I wasn’t sending cards this year and he decided we ought to at least send cards to those who sent to us and told me not to worry my [pretty] little head about it—he would do it! (Okay I added the word “pretty”—he just said “little,” implying, I think, that I was being a pinhead!) Anyway—fine with me!
Wrapping gifts—always a last-minute rush for me on December 23rd. This year I had it done days earlier and everything went into gift bags with some tissue paper and a name tag. Easy-peesy! Robbie was so excited to see all those presents! He loves getting presents and pulling the tissue paper out of the bags, peering inside to see what treasure lies within and finally getting his hand inside to pull it out. He probably thinks all those gifts are for him! I’m surprised he hasn’t been begging for them, signing “please, please” as he stares at them. He may not be able to talk but he sure can communicate when he wants to!
So now here we are on the day before the day before Christmas. I will bake some Jumbo Raisin Nut Cookies this afternoon (my contribution to the cookie tray on Christmas Eve at my sister’s. We sisters and nieces draw for which cookie we will make and bring.) Tonight I will make Mexican Pinwheel appetizers and in the morning I will put together a sausage, cheese and cracker tray, also for the party. When I get home from that I will make a cherry cheesecake to take to my mother’s on Christmas Day. The next morning I’ll make a corn pudding to contribute to her dinner. A little at a time to do in the kitchen with some fun times in between. Nice.
The day before the day before Christmas. This year it falls on a Sunday. I was disappointed to find out there will not be a Sunday evening service tonight at our church, since they are having a special Christmas Day service on Tuesday morning. Bob and I take turns going to church so that one of us is here to take care of Robbie. He goes to church in the mornings and I go at night. In the midst of all the preparations for Christmas, though, at the center of my thoughts is the reason for the season—Christ’s coming to earth as a tiny baby in a stable of Bethlehem. I think that is why I love my Christmas music so much—it focuses my attention on Jesus, despite all the distractions we have at this time of year.
I am thinking this morning of the day before the day before that first Christmas two thousand years ago. The shepherds of Bethlehem had no idea that their lives would be changed forever in just a short time, when the sky above their fields would be filled with a glorious chorus of angels bringing the best news the world had ever heard—the Prince of Peace had come. On the day before the day before they went about their usual business, never anticipating the fear and wonder they would experience, or the joyous news they would share with the townfolk of Bethlehem.
On the day before the day before that first Christmas Mary and Joseph were embarking on their journey to Bethlehem. They, of course, had heard the angel’s announcement as to Who this baby she carried was. They had wondered, I am sure, what the future held for them and how they would raise this special child. They knew the babe was due, but on the day before the day before could they have ever dreamed that the Son of God would be born in dark, dirty, cold stable? Could they have ever dreamed that shepherds would burst in on them that night, excitedly recounting the angels’ proclamation and falling on their knees in worship of Mary’s tiny babe. Could they have ever imagined that great men from the east would seek them out one day, bearing precious gifts for Him and worshipping the baby King of the Jews. On the day before the day before, they had no idea that soon they would be fleeing for their lives to Egypt.
On the day before the day before that first Christmas, the world was in ignorance that the Son of God, Emmanuel, was about to come down from Heaven and dwell among us. They had no idea He would take upon Himself the form of a man and become a servant and sacrifice for us. There was no anticipation, no joyous preparations for His coming. The world lay in darkness, unaware that the Light of the world would soon shine, breaking the bondage of sin and darkness.
Sadly, on this day before the day before Christmas, many in this world still have not heard, or if they have heard, choose not to believe that Christ has come to bring salvation to all who trust in Him. On this day before the day before Christmas, billions have no idea that He is coming to earth again, and it could be today, tomorrow—or the day after tomorrow. The only preparations to be made for His Second Coming is to make sure that our hearts are right with God.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:8-20)
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
…and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory… But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only…Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.(Matthew 24:30b, 36, 42, 44)
May you have a blessed Christmas and a joyous new Year as we look for His coming again!