Thursday, December 31, 2015

I've Always Loved Christmas

Chuckie, Mom Evans, Tina, and Chuck Evans
Doug, Amanda, Brantey and Drake Evans

Jennifer and David Ramey

Cody, Will, Angie, and Austin
Ryan, and Mom Evans
Stephanie, Mom Evans, and Nate Hanks

                                Photos from our family gathering Christmas Eve
                                                        shared by Wayne and Chris Watson

     I've always loved Christmas.  As a child, it wasn't just abut getting toys from "Santa", but it meant a trip to West Virginia to be with Grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.  As I've gotten older and especially now that I've been caring for Mom, I realize even more the truth that it isn't the presents under the tree but the family around the table that makes it Christmas.

     Years ago when the nieces and nephews were very young, we started a Christmas tradition of having a birthday cake for Jesus, read the Christmas story from the Bible in the book of Luke, and then sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.  This helped keep the focus on the true meaning of the season and to teach the little ones what it was truly about.  Then, after the reading and the singing, the children would be given their gifts to open.  

     As they all grew up, we choose not to exchange gifts, just to be together and have a great dinner.  So to help pass the time, I began bringing party games to the gathering so that we could have some fun and it helps keep everyone from getting bore!  I have to confess here that I am NOT a game person and to be the one in charge of this activity really takes me out of my comfort zone!  I told my husband I'm about as interesting as the Activities Director on the Titantic!  But my family is so kind and gracious and always goes along with whatever games I happen to find for them to play.

     This year, after the games and the laughing we were sitting around the living room and I began asking each one to share with us what their favorite Christmas gift had been.  There were the usual electronic games and toys from the younger ones.  One of my niece-in-laws said hers was when she was given her first horse (I could relate to that!); one nephew said it was a box with the results of the pregnancy test telling him he was going to be a Dad (very precious!).  

     Then Austin, one of my nephews, said that all of the gifts he had ever been given were the best because it was for the age that he was then and what he really wanted at the time.  Very insightful for a 16 year old, I thought.  

     Later when everyone was gone and I was cleaning up the kitchen, I thought again about what he said and I realized that isn't just for gifts, but for Christmases, too.  Every Christmas is the best one ever because of who we were at that time, what was happening in our life, and the dynamics of the relationships we had then.  

     Those past Christmases are a memory, yet in each of them there is something that remains a part of who we are now, helping to mold us into what we are today.  We may not realize it or understand it, but our loving Lord is in control and directing our paths even in those times when we weren't seeking His direction nor acknowledging Him.

     We are preparing to move into a new year and none of us knows just what is waiting there in 2016.  My prayer both for you and for myself is that we will cherish these moments that we have with our loved ones, especially the ones we are caring for.  The Lord will change this season that we are in; the greatest tragedy would be to squander the time and then look back and say "I wish I had...."

      My Caregiving Friend, keep looking up and stay on your knees.  Remember that you are loved with an everlasting love.