Wednesday, January 5, 2011



I'm thankful that Christmas isn't . . .

lots of gifts under the tree.

spending time with extended family.

a wonderful sit-down dinner of turkey and my sister's amazing cornbread dressing.  

I'm thankful that Christmas isn't . . .

attending parties and programs and open houses.

going to our church's Christmas Eve "glow-stick" service and singing my heart out.

sending out cards with our family's faces on it.

I'm thankful that Christmas isn't . . .

sharing delicious baked goodies with my neighbors and making my special pound cake for loved ones.

writing a post on my blog that points people to the One in the Manger.

packing bags of food for the needy from our church's food pantry.

I'm thankful that Christmas isn't . . .

a day without a little disappointment.

a day that is easy and struggle-free.

a day that goes as planned.

I'm thankful Christmas isn't . . .

the only day for spiritual epiphanies and revelations.

the only day we can draw near to the manger.

the only day we can read the Christmas story.

Because if it was, we would have missed it.

My mother's fall on December 13th, changed our plans a little and caused a few things to be marked off the "to-do" list. Marked off, not because they were done, but because they no longer were a priority. We were okay with that. We were just thankful that we could do what we could to help my mom and dad, and my sister.

I tried to squeeze two weeks of preparations into two days. I was determined to pull it all together. I was so determined that I found myself, sitting in a shopping center parking lot, with my face buried into my hands doing the "nasty cry."

The frustration that brought on the sobs was from not being able to find what I was looking for, running out of time, needing to be in two places at the same time, and being physically and emotionally exhausted. I found myself saying over and over again, "It's just a day. It's just a day. His birth wasn't just any birth. He's not just any Savior. But Christmas is just a day."

Sobbing in a parking lot, bound up with plans and expectations, trying to continue family traditions at all cost, and being overwhelmed by a much-too-long-to-do-list wadded up on the car seat beside me were a heck of a way to  celebrate the birth of the One that came to bring us freedom!

Christmas Eve, when three of the four of us got sick, all of our Christmas plans quickly came to a halt.


I felt perfect peace.

The colds, sore throats, and fevers were out of my control. There was nothing that I could do. Nothing I could do except open up my heart to whatever God wanted to show me through the busted plans, failed attempts, and un-baked cookies.

What He showed me was exactly what I had said to myself during my melt-down in the shopping center parking lot . . . Christmas is just a day.

But "The Reason We Celebrate" isn't. 

He is . . . everything.

The Redemption Story . . . The Rescue Plan . . . Our Emanuel - "God With Us" . . . The Incarnation . . . The Savior in the Manger . . . Jesus Messiah . . . He is worthy of our praise and celebration 365 days every year.

I was determined to spend my Christmas Day being grateful. That was one way I could celebrate Jesus, regardless of our circumstances. I told myself that if I felt the least bit ungrateful or if I felt a "pity-party" coming on, I would get in my car and drive to the hospital where we spent Christmas 7 years ago.  Sitting in another parking lot, reliving painful, horrible memories would have been a small price to pay for the "Offering of Thanksgiving" that I wanted to give to Jesus.

But I didn't have to go anywhere.

My heart was full. And I was grateful.

Grateful . . . 

406.   that My Savior is so amazing, so powerful, so indescribable, that a 24 hour day isn't enough time to celebrate his birth.

407.  that He's in everything . . . even sore throats and colds and fevers.

408.  that the pressure's off because He knows my heart.

409.  that my extended family is close enough in distance that we can celebrate together whenever we want.

410.  for the safety of a sweet, stubborn dad that chose to stay alone.

411. for the healing of broken bones and for good surgeons.

412. for Sunday morning worship services where I can sing my heart out.

413. for Christmas cd's that are going to stay in the car for a few more months.

414. for my sister's offer to make us cornbread dressing when we come for a visit.

415. for Ethan's two great aunts and great uncle who showered him with 12 surprises to celebrate "The 12 Days of Christmas."

416.  for our church's food pantry that shares food every week of the year.

417.  for a text message with a picture telling us we were missed on Christmas Day.

418.  that Ethan was able to fight a wicked virus and is back to normal.

419.  for songs sung and a guitar played.

420.  that the Christmas Story can be found in every book of the Bible.

421.  for a generous surprise found in an e-mail.

422.  for a sister that loves my oldest son so much that she was willing to drive two hours to satisfy his turkey addiction. (I wouldn't let her do it. He had to eat fried chicken instead.)

423.  that cookies and cakes can be given and received all throughout the year.

424. for all the memories hung on a real tree.

425. for a sister that shows me grace by doing for my parents when I can't do.

426.  that God, who loved the world so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son, so that whoever believed on Him would never perish but have eternal life, gave my youngest son back to me.


When Seth was walking out the door, to return home the Monday after Christmas, he said, "I feel like we kind of missed Christmas." 

And then he said,  "But not really."

Oh how I agreed.

We didn't miss anything. 

It was a wonderful, wonderful Christmas. 

And it will be tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that . . .

  Grateful that Wednesday is as good of day to give thanks as Monday!


  1. Thank you again. Love you and so thankful that we got to spend some time together visiting.

  2. You nailed it again, Cheri. If only we could remember that every day of the Christmas Season it would be great, but it is so easy to get side-tracked.
    Thanks for sharing.