Detaching my hands from the things of this world…

This Christmas was one of the best ever here on Pollywog Creek. Not perfect, not even close, but lovely and peaceful and loud and chaotic, and some of the funniest and most wonderful people I know and love made it so…

Our Christmas tree has been raining needles since we brought it home the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a beautiful tree – not elegant, but a family tree with a wide assortment of ornaments collected over 33 years of marriage and 31 years of raising children. Part of me wants the tree and the gazillion needles embedded in the carpet out of the house yesterday, but more of me wants the tree to stay just like it is, that I might linger in the sweetness of it all.

This best-of-all-Christmases wasn’t about gifts. It was actually one of the leanest years for gift giving and receiving that I can recall.

It wasn’t about the weather either. Christmas Day was unusually overcast, warm and muggy.

Many of my plans were derailed.

We couldn’t get to Christmas Eve service.

We (I) forgot to light the Christmas candle.

We ate in shifts because my dining room table is small, used plastic cups and my everyday tablecloth, and the silverware didn’t match.

Christmas Day I also forgot to distribute the small gifts I had purchased for the ladies. Martha Stewart I was not.

Nick was not able to be with us Christmas day and Mike and his family were not here before Nick had to leave. We were so close to having everyone here at the same time.

Gavin had a cough and runny nose, I was semi-miserable on the verge of a crohns flare, and Louis – who is still recovering from back surgery – moved about cautiously as he searched for a comfortable place in the house to rest.

Still, it was one of the best.

I continue to learn what it means to be content and grateful. By many standards, we are rich. We did not go into debt to buy anything, and made efforts to round down our personal spending while rounding up our giving.

I listened to music, really listened. Inspired by Emily to focus on the lyrics, I heard old, familiar carols in new, more worshipful ways.

I didn’t make impossible to-do lists for myself. I asked God to please order my steps and thanked Him for helping me accomplish what was important to Him each day.

And I changed my plans more than once, staying home from a party when my body told me I needed the rest more.

More than anything, it was the meaningful time we had together with people we love that we treasured the most, that made this the best Christmas ever.

By Sunday we were back to just the three of us again. With an appetite for seafood, we decided to take a side trip to the beach that afternoon. It was cold and cloudy – horrible beach weather. A light drizzle began to fall just as we left the restaurant, cutting short our time to walk along the water’s edge and out on the jetties…

… but long enough to discover the “snowman” that had been sculpted in the sand and embellished with shells and plants from the gulf that had washed ashore and dried on the beach.

Surely by now the “snowman” has been crushed by the waves of the rising tides, and his shell buttons and seaweed arms have been washed out to sea. Any sandcastle builder knows – the tide cannot be held back, and even the most stalwart efforts to do so are wasted. Everything on the beach changes with the wind and the waves and the sun and the rain and time.

So it is with life on Pollywog Creek. I will take down the tree (soon) and put Christmas 2009 behind me. As much as I long to freeze-frame time, to hold onto the here and now, to keep my children and my children’s children seated around my dinner table forever, my efforts to do so would surely be wasted and cause me much sorrow in the endeavor.

And still He seeks the fellowship of His people and will send them both joy and sorrow to detach their hands from the things of this world and to attach those hands to Himself. ~ J.I. Packer

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11 Responses to “Detaching my hands from the things of this world…”

  1. I love the "snowman"! The picture of your husband and daughter is beautiful!

  2. I sense a feeling of peace as I read your post.Christmas is about so much more than gifts and food and perfection.God Bless you as you enter the new year.I had never thought of a sand snowman.Cute! Blessings,Ruth

  3. Sounds like a perfect Christmas to me. I like the photo of your daughter and her Dad.I got my camera like yours. I am so excited to learn how it works and see what I can capture. Yesterday, I made a photo of a Squirrel in the tree. I could never have gotten it with the old camera.Mama Bear

  4. Patricia, I have been gone from all my blogs for awhile but have now come back to them and didn't realize how much I missed them but the one I missed the most was yours. Your blog brings me peace and comfort when I read it. I love all of your photos and your words of wisdom. You inspire me to see the world in a different way and to see God in it all.The picture of Louis and Emily is so precious, I know you will treasure that one.I wish you and your family many blessing, comfort and peace for the New Year.In God's love,Sandy

  5. Your snowman is the best. Sounds like your Christmas was perfectly normal. Happy New Year!

  6. love your thoughts today–and your snowman.Happy New Year!

  7. I am glad that you are able to find the positive side of things. Your Christmas sounds like a great one to me. You got some amazing (as always) photos to show for it and the "sand" snow man is so cute! What a brilliant idea. ♪ Happy New Year ♪ and may twenty ten be the most blessed of all for you and yours.

  8. For some reason, this post and the pictures gave me tears….I'm so happy for you! (I hope we don't pass one another, me on my way to Florida next Christmas, you on your way to Montana…)

  9. Each Christmas I feel the way you described (so much better than I could have done it)wishing we could freeze frame some of the moments. But then those moments and experiences are what makes each Christmas so uniquely special. Your beach photos look familiar and yet so perfectly you and only the way you could capture them. They definitely make me wish I was there right this moment. Thank you for sharing your heart in the beautiful way you do, Patricia.Meems

  10. I was in tears, too. (like the Farmer's wife). I guess the nostalgia… trying to hold back the moments from escaping.I love how you asked God to order your days. I was convicted.And I love how you described your tree. My friend just told me about a tree that she had seen in someone's home that was gorgeous and perfect, but sad to her, because it didn't bear the years of 'family' on its limbs.I told her that I realized as I was taking the tree down yesterday that the ornaments that hold the most value to me aren't the valuable ones. They're the ones that my kids have made out of sparkley glue and sequins.

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