I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Memories Remind Us What's Important

Ten stockings from our blended family wait to be filled.
Merry Christmas from Roxanne!
My 82-year-old mother hasn’t had all her children and grandchildren together to celebrate Christmas in 21 years, so we’re having a family reunion this holiday. My daughter, who works in retail, had to jump through hoops and beg her boss for two days off in order to attend. I’m praying the airlines cooperate with her late Christmas Eve flight.

So, guess who’s hosting this shindig? Yep. Me!

You can bet there are plenty of items on my to-do list. But nowhere on my agenda were the words “flu”, “sinus infection” or “bed rest.” Scheduled or not, illness robbed me of two weeks. So, I’m more than behind on my plans. Where are the checkmarks of all the tasks I should have accomplished by now? Where are all the clean rooms waiting for guests?  Whew! Makes me exhausted to think of all the hustle and bustle of things to do. Before I have a relapse, I need to prop up my feet and sip a cup of hot chocolate, while I ponder a few memories to get into the holiday spirit. 

 Just before Christmas, Kara and Suzanne, my then four-year-old twins, picked out clothes from the dress-up box to enhance their imaginary play. Over Kara’s jeans and t-shirt, she donned a gray striped boy’s jacket and a pair of cowboy boots. In this outfit, she usually added a cowboy hat and pretended to be a cowboy named “Tan.” Sidekick Suzanne wore an ankle-length, blue prairie dress with a yellow scarf covering her long, blond hair. Kara, holding Suzanne’s hand and carrying a small, "going-to-grandma’s suitcase," announced, “We’re Mary and Joseph, and we’re going on a trip.” I wish I’d grabbed the camera. I can still see the vivid picture in my mind.

Another year, money was tight. Six kids. One income. You get the idea. Throughout the year, we gave our kids piano lessons, let them play on sports' teams and provided all we could. But that Christmas there was little leftover for gifts. We splurged on the two youngest boys, ages 2 and 4, with a Brio train table, which came with trains, track and accessories. (I only wish I’d gone to the Dollar Store so they had more than one box to unwrap.) Those boys are now 14 and 16 and we still have the train table, only it’s in their six-year-old brother’s room. Our four other children, who were 10-13, each received a book or game from an aunt and uncle. Their grandmother’s budget could afford only two Razor scooters—the rage that year. So they each got “half” a scooter. My husband and I gave them a trampoline with the big net enclosure, which couldn’t fit under the tree. Since we had so few gifts, we made a scavenger hunt to find the trampoline hidden in their daddy’s suburban. With the fun they had searching for clues, it didn't matter there were so few gifts. 

My friend, who had a bigger Christmas budget and parents who lavished their grandkids, asked Kara what she got for Christmas. After Kara quickly named the few items, the friend asked if she’d had a good Christmas. “Oh, yes. It was great!”

          1.  Don’t worry so much about presents. The number of gifts doesn’t matter as much as the amount of time spent together as a family.
       2.  Don’t worry so much about your to-do list. Somehow, everything gets done. Or doesn’t get done. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta let things go. ;-)

Before rushing back to your own crazy agenda, think about your own stories. What are your favorite Christmas memories? 

~ Roxanne Sherwood Gray


  1. When our oldest son was born 2 months before Christmas, my dad and step-mom had given him a wooden bear ornament. When we put up our tree the next year, he was 14-months-old and loved that bear. It hung on a lower branch. He tugged on the bear and pulled the entire tree over. He didn't cry. He sat in the middle of the boughs and said as calmly as could be, "Uh oh."

    Our family's all-time favorite Christmas memory, which has now become a family favorite phrase (say that 10 times fast), was when our youngest was a toddler. He unwrapped a gift on Christmas Eve, held it up and proclaimed, "Unnerwear, no fair!" So every year when my boys unwrap their boxers (yes, I'm the kind of mom who wraps up socks and underwear every year), they proclaim "Unnerwear, no fair."

  2. Oh, Lisa! I'm so glad Scott wasn't hurt when the tree fell. (I put my tree inside a playpen for a couple of years because I was afraid of that.) I'm kinda in your boys' camp with the "unnerwear, no fair." But my husband always got underwear in his stocking and thinks that's appropriate. ;-)

  3. Roxanne, so glad for you to be in your new family and love the pic up top, too! A favorite memory--being on a ride, though the snow, in a horse-drawn carriage with other kids from church. It was magical. The full moon shone down on the pure white snow. We sang carols. Bells peeled out a Christmas song at a nearby church that echoed across the forest and into the clearing where we rode. The night was so still and lovely. A special memory!

    1. Carrie,

      I want that memory--It sounds so lovely! Maybe one day I can make that happen. ;-) Thanks for sharing and for your best wishes.

  4. Somehow, my favorite memories seem all bundled together so that I just remember Christmas being such a fun time of searching for the right gift for the right person. I think we love "giving" so much because it's part of who God is. After all, "for God so loved the world that He GAVE..."

  5. I love the giving too. For all of us the best gift came that first Christmas when God gave us His Son. Thanks, Teri, for that reminder. :-)

  6. Favorite memories? Looking through the Sears and Roebuck catalog, dreaming about the cap pistols on my list. lol Great post, Roxanne.

  7. Pat, Cap pistols? Oh, I sense the beginning of the mystery writer in you!

    I loved playing the "Sears and Roebuck Catalog Game." My sister and I would spend hours selecting items for our pretend family. Our rules: We took turns being first. We could only choose one thing. And we couldn't duplicate the same item. Fun times. :-)

  8. Yup, had twin cap pistols. Now my youngest grand-dtr. has one. Loved Sears & Roebuck catalogs, though up in Canada those sat in outhouses in our many years before more indoor plumbing than buckets to serve as emergency outhouse paper--along with thick copies of other publications.
    Couldn't access this blog on my poor sick computer now in Office Depot hospital w/ spyware to the tune of $150 (ouch, Christmas), but it will be worth it to have it healthy again. But at library, voila, there you are.
    Thanks, Roxanne. All of your family will simply enjoy YOU, whether the house is entirely ready or not. Hugs.

  9. Dee,

    I had not idea cap pistols were so popular. We used a hammer or a big rock to pop caps on the sidewalk.

    Ouch for the cost of the spyware. (And I'm glad I missed out on the whole outhouse experience.)

    Thanks so much for your encouragement. You are bless me so much!