Another First Christmas

Tis the night before the night before Christmas. The house is quiet except for the Hallmark Channel Christmas movie playing in the family room. Yes, I’m home alone with the dogs and watching a Hallmark movie. Please don’t judge me. I had to see if Santa’s daughter Kristi would find true love with a postman, rock band guitarist. Happy ending.  She did!

Hallmark Christmas movies have been a tradition in our home for many, many, did I mention, many years?! My wife Barb loved these sappy romantic holiday love stories even though every movie I have ever watched has had almost the exact same storyline.

Girl or boy has relationship issues, she meets new boy or he reunites with girl from his past, they awkwardly begin to like each other, laughs are shared, they fall in love, a misunderstanding arises, they part ways, then rush back to each other just before the plane, train or bus leaves so they may live happily ever after. I guess we all still like a fairytale ending and the hope of love it brings. Including me.

I’ve been blessed to have lived a real-world love story and Hallmark is welcome to use it for next season’s hit movie. From our first meeting on a dance floor and then our first date where Barb broiled to a crisp our Valentine’s Day steaks. My first after church Sunday meal with her family where her brother Greg served a small plate of freshly fried squirrel (I’m a city boy). My awkward proposal to Barb on New’s Years Eve and our June wedding six months later where we drove off to our honeymoon in a car, shoe polished with messages such as ‘Another One Bites The Dust’.

Each Christmas over our years together has been just as memorable. Our first Christmas as newlyweds. Then Christmas mornings with one then two then three children under the age of five. The late night Christmas Eve wrappings and assemblings. The Christmas church programs with our little angels playing angels and shepherds at the stable (one year with holsters and toy guns). Year after year so many wonderful Christmas memories with Barb and the kids and now making new ones with our granddaughter. The word blessing is appropriate but doesn’t really convey the true gift these memories are to me.

And this Christmas will be no different except it is without Barb. So, in reality, it is very different. It is hard. It is sad. So much so at times, it is overwhelming. The reason for the season has not and never will change but the Christmas lights are not as bright this year. The songs not as much fun to sing. The cookies are not as sweet. There is a gift missing this year and that gift is Barb.

But there is another gift that sustains me. There is a gift that gives me strength and hope. There is a gift that brings joy regardless of my situation. That gift is Christmas itself. The gift God gave to all of us and continues to give every year, day, and moment. The gift of Himself, a child, our savior. This is the reason for this season and this gift is greater than any sorrow we endure. I accept it again this year and am so very grateful. It is the true love story we all long for.

This Fall I decided to join our church chorus. I had not sung in a choir for over thirty years so my vocal chords are going through a year of retraining and fine tuning but I’m really enjoying the music and our choir family. For this Christmas season, one of the songs we sang is called Fear Not. It was a very moving song for me and at times hard to get through as thoughts of Barb were very prevalent in my mind while singing it.

“To those who think your prayers have all been worthless
To those who think your chains are yours for life
To those who think you cannot leave the darkness
And bring your brokenness into the light” 

“Fear not, our God is with us
Emmanuel redeeming love has come
Fear not, we have a Savior
And nothing is impossible with God
Fear not”

So this Christmas, this first Christmas without Barb, I will fear not. I will bring my brokenness into the light. And it is my prayer that each of you will be able to do the same no matter what circumstance, what darkness, you find yourself in. This Christmas accept the gift of life, love, and joy. Nothing is impossible with God. Fear Not my friends!

Merry Christmas and see you down the road.

{Fear Not – Carl Cartee and David Moffitt}

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