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