Learning Lessons from Christmas Past for Christmas Present

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The boxes of photos I brought home from Dad’s basement are in such a random, jumbled disorder. As I sort through them I find sepia toned photos of Dad’s childhood next to black and white photos of my early years and colored pictures and Polaroid’s of my own children.

I feel a little like an archeologist, as I sift through handfuls of pictures, wondering what I will discover next. I slip the special treasures into a photo album, as I sort others into piles.

Today marks three years since my mama passed. This will be my fourth Christmas without her, and my second without Daddy. I miss them every day. But I’m not crying as often. I’m getting stronger, but life will never be the same.

I look at the old family photos, where Mom is happy and healthy and cooking up feasts for holidays and birthdays… I see the pictures of her loving her babies and then her grandchildren. I see the joy in her face. I see Daddy young and strong, carving pumpkins with us and taking us on bike rides.

I see photos of Christmases past, when Mom and Dad were young grandparents, and my brothers and all our children were squeezed into the living room of our childhood, in a joyful chaos of togetherness. Discarded wrapping paper was heaped into a pile that Dad would dive into and the little ones would “find” him.

Then we’d have paper fights with the wads of wrapping paper and eat the big meal Mom had prepared and nibble on Christmas cookies all day while we played games or sang songs or snuck away for a nap.

I was so incredibly rich in people then. I had everyone I deeply loved together in one place.

Life isn’t the same without Mom and Dad. But they left me an example to follow. They lost their parents and grieved and mourned them. But they kept celebrating with those of us that were still with them.

They showed us that life goes on. And missing people we love becomes part of life. There are shadows that linger. And tears fill our eyes when we don’t expect them. But we can still bake cookies and wrap gifts for those we love. We can still sing songs with joy and throw wads of wrapping paper with laughter.

We can still meditate on what Christmas really means now and for eternity. We can know, that because of the saving grace of Jesus, all who trust in Him will be together again. Strong and healthy and able and beautiful once more.

Life isn’t the same without Mom and Dad. But we can keep loving the people here with us still. I can hug my own children and grandchildren, and nephews and nieces, and know that I’m hugging the legacy Mom and Dad left behind.

We can keep sharing big meals and celebrating life and taking pictures. And someday maybe our children will be sorting through piles of photos and remembering us and realizing how very blessed and loved they were.

Which makes me think, I should probably print some actual pictures and not just leave them on my phone.

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