God has made everything beautiful for its own time. ~ Ecc. 3:11
I've spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out if we were going to be able to decorate the Christmas tree this year as a family. We've never missed a year. It's very much a tradition that our family loves. They fuss and argue over who hangs what and where - I usually want to kill them all at least twice, but there's so much joy in the process. It's not looking like it is going to happen this year. Everyone together when we wake up on Christmas morning? Likely won't happen either. I realize with children at 24, 22, 19 and 17 - with two of them married, two of them living in other towns, another soon-to-move, all but one with real, grown up jobs, I should actually just be grateful that it's taken this long to miss a year. And I am. But I'm also a little sad.
This is not a real problem. My news feed has been packed full of real problems this week - this is not a real problem. Yet, I've still been a little melancholy.
Through a series of events that I won't bore you with, yesterday took Thomas and I through the neck of the woods where my parents grew up.
So many memories.
Before we even arrived, we topped a hill that brought back, "Drive over the Fun Hill fast, Daddy!" When we were kids, heading to see Dad and Granny (what I called my mom's parents), there was a specific hill that, if taken fast enough, would grab our tummies every. single. time. We loved that and my Daddy complied every. single. time. Isn't it funny the memories that stick? I don't know if he realizes what a happy memory that simple act placed in my now mostly-fuzzy brain, but it's a good one.
As Thomas and I walked the property and through the now-abandoned house, every single space brought back equally happy memories.
- The tree we climbed to sit on top of one of the out-buildings.
- The cellar Granny marched us all to at the first sign of a dark cloud.
- The cellar top where I spent hours and hours making mud pies.
- The shop where Dad made the rolling pin and biscuit cutter that I still use.
- The tree we worked under cutting and shucking corn.
- The garden where all of the extended family came together to harvest.
Every. Single. Room.
- The living room where Dad would put me in his lap to watch the Gospel Singing Jubilee and just be present with me while we waited for the next meal.
- The phone in the corner that we had to pick up oh-so-quietly because one of three or four other families may already be using it. (That's a "party line" - ask your grandparents if you don't know what that is.)
- The dining room/kitchen where Granny spent so many hours cooking for so many people, sitting at the window, snapping beans and watching us play on the swing set; the table where they played dominoes nearly every day. I don't remember a single complaint ever passing her lips. There probably were some, but she was the hardest working, most gracious woman.
- The mud room where Dad pried off his dirty work boots, after a very long day, and still took time to love, tickle and hold.
- The bedroom we slept in - where Dad would come in early in the morning with a cup of cold water to "pour it in their ears if they don't get up" -- even though the smell of bacon had already awakened us, it was fun to wait for him to come in.
- The bathroom. A funny place for a memory, but I remember my Granny saving the littlest pieces of soap and putting them together to make a larger bar - no waste with her.
For a bit, all of this increased the melancholy. The house looks so sad - abandoned and overgrown. Some of the out buildings are just gone. The family is grown and scattered, some long since with Jesus.
But then I remembered.
So. Many. Memories.
And then I felt better.
We've built memories with our kids. All those years of decorating, making ornaments, fighting over whose turn it is to put on the tree-topper. All of us sitting together to watch It's A Wonderful Life and eating orange rolls on Christmas morning. Those will never leave. It's hard to make this happen because my children have busy, happy, productive lives.
And we're making new memories. We have two new family members this year. Dylan brought beautiful Grace to us. We have to share him with her family now, but the trade of getting her is worth it. We have another daughter. We have Thomas now and this is joy to me. We have another son.
This is not a problem. This, in fact, is a blessing.
If things aren't changing, they're probably dying. And there is much life here. Difficulties, sometimes heartache, but also joy. So much joy. So while some of our traditions may have to become erratic, and morph into something different than how we've always done it, we'll be making new traditions - new memories. My children will begin creating their own traditions with their new families. New memories.
This is life. That's a good thing.
Also? Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll - because it's Thanksgiving before it's Christmas. So, enjoy both -- in that order. I pray blessings for every minute of both - whether you're enjoying old traditions or making new ones.