I just finished reading a biography of an author I loved as a child – Beverly Cleary. She wrote the books telling the hilarious tales of Henry and his dog, Ribsy. I was happy to be able to read how she became an author and what led up to the publishing of her books. Beverly remembered with much clarity and detail the events of her life. I’m not sure if she recorded them, but I can’t see how she could have remembered the stories she shared unless they had been written down somewhere. The book was engaging as I read about her memories, each one making up the story she told.
Life is full and fast. The days and years are so full of precious memories, but it’s easy to let each day follow the last and forget those treasures of our lives. When we allow events to slip away unrecorded, we lose those memories like the sun that slips behind the ocean at sunset. We forget the day-to-day events that got us to where we are. We forget the funny quips our children utter. We draw blanks on the details we wish we could recall – all because we weren’t intentional to record them.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I hate to journal!” No worries! Here are a couple simple ways to record happenings and events in just a few sentences that don’t require writing a journal page. These will only take a few minutes, at the most!
The last of the laundry has been folded and put away. Beds are neatly made, bathrooms have been cleaned and the floors are swept and mopped, but still there is much that lingers in the corners of my home from our recent Family Christmas. The traces that are left from the past holiday will remain in the deepest part of my heart, I pray until the day I leave this world and enter the next. I share my memories with you now, more for my own heart to press each detail into my memory for its long-term preservation.
After this long year of severed plans, pandemic panic and so much isolation, I had held very lightly our family’s hopes for gathering together at Christmas. Proverbs reminds us that man’s goings are of the Lord. I know I can trust Him, whether what I plan comes to fruition or not. But we did make plans, and asked the Lord for His will to be done. In His grace and kindness, the Lord allowed our plans to not only come to pass, but also to surpass what we had ever imagined! Here’s how I saw that happen…
Everyone was well and able to come. No one was sick or quarantined! We were all well and able to gather together!
The Lord gave us a white Christmas that began after we were all together under our roof! The snow began to fall on Christmas Eve and left us with a few inches of fluffy snow that covered the hillsides and made the holiday so festive that even a Hallmark movie couldn’t have matched the setting (now that’s saying something!).
We created a new tradition and fun memory. The Lord brought an idea to my mind to have a cookie decorating contest. I wanted something that was easy enough for even my four-year old grandsons to participate in, so I baked snowflake-shaped cookies ahead of time, and then had the counter filled with colored icings, and a plethora of sprinkles. Everyone had been informed before they arrived what they would be given two cookies to decorate so they could gather an idea on Pinterest, or bring any aid with them, if they desired. Then in order to also include other family members in another state, we made a Facetime call to my mom so she could see the cookies on the counter and be our judge for first and second place winners! I had simple treat bags for each of the two winners. My younger daughter came in first place and my husband was second place! Everyone really put their heart into the creations and we had so much fun together!
We shared our traditional foodsour family loves. I asked everyone what they felt like was important that we have for our meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I made sure those things were provided. We enjoyed yummy sweets, but also savory soups and sides.
We had a family sleep-over! Christmas Day continued to bring more snow, so even our local family decided to bring things so they could just pack it in at our house for the night! Pallets were made on the floor for the twins, a couch was utelized, as well as both the day bed and our guest room. The next morning as everyone arose, it was so sweet to sit near the fireplace in the living room, cups of steaming coffee warming our chilled bodies, while our sleepy eyes slowly took in the new day with dimmed lights and hushed voices. Breakfast of French Toast was made for the whole family by my husband – the King of Breakfast! No one seemed in a hurry for the day to move forward; this was our last morning together and it was another gift from our Father’s kind hand.
Sweet moments of tenderness – Gifts – Watching four-year old’s at Christmas is a gift in itself. They were so thankful and so excited! My grandsons gave me an oven mitt with their hand prints on it. A card included the tearful reminder that their prints would last while their hands continued to grow up and one day move away. I received a beautiful hand-painted picture of our house! This home is a grace gift from the Lord and such a gift, so this painting is a precious reminder of how God answered my ten year prayer! Music – My daughters are both very musical, so Whitney played the piano and Alli played her violin so we could sing carols and hymns. How wonderful to enjoy this blessing, especially after missing church for so many weeks this year! Conversations – One of my grandsons was asking about the baby Jesus and the grown up Jesus. I had the blessing of telling him how that Baby Jesus grew up, just like he was growing up. He loved us so much that He took the punishment for our sins on the cross. I could see him processing it all in his mind. Little light bulbs are coming on, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share the Gospel with him again! One of the boys called, “Gigi, Gigi, come see! The sun is going to bed!” He took me by the hand to show me the sun setting over the hillside. Indeed, the sun was going to bed. Chats at the table, prayers uttered as a family, Scriptures were read, hearts were shared…all these conversations are such a gift.
I’m reminded of the Scripture that says,
Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
This Christmas, our Father gave us so many good gifts, and my heart is so full of thanks. I know many who were alone. Some are suffering. Some are grieving. I don’t deserve all that the Lord did for us this Christmas, that’s why they are grace gifts. I am thankful, and give praise to my loving Father for His lavish kindness that He poured out on us this Christmas of 2020.
Come back on Friday for some photos of these memories.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Today I’m re-posting from 2009 because I think of this particular Thanksgiving every single year.
I’ve been pondering past Thanksgivings. All holidays were special when I was growing up. There were certain foods and traditions that were a part of each special holiday, and I have many wonderful memories of the years when I was growing up. But when I think about my favorite Thanksgiving I think back to the year before I got married. I was in love; I think that had to be what set this Thanksgiving off from all others!
This was a first for me; I was hosting the dinner in my home – a 14′ x 70′ trailer, for my boyfriend (soon to be fiance’), and both sets of parents! The kitchen was so small that if I hoped to open the fridge during dinner or slip over to the sink during the meal, there was no way we could eat dinner in the kitchen. So I moved the kitchen table into the living room and turned it into my dining room.
I don’t remember the entire menu, but I know we had the essentials – turkey and mashed potatoes (thank goodness my mom came early to help me roast the turkey)! We also had green beans and a jello salad. I remember making my first ever yeast rolls. I was so proud that they rose to their clover shape! I’m not sure how they tasted, but they were pretty! I made gingerbread place cards for each place setting. They weren’t nearly as fancy as these, but they were cute and edible!
Everything was very simple. There were no fancy dishes – just the ones I’d picked up each week at the grocery store. My cloth napkins were ones I’d made myself with a couple yards of fabric. I served a simple sherbet punch and iced tea to accompany our meal.
There we all were, gathered in my little living room. I was giving thanks for God’s provisions for this insignificant first grade school teacher. Everything I had was so obviously a grace gift from my loving God. I was seated next to my husband-to-be, and with my godly parents who were the best parents a girl could have, and also with my future in-laws that had been so gracious to me.
That was twenty-nine years ago, and though I’ve had many special Thanksgivings since then, that one is the most memorable. It was the beginning of sharing my thanks to God beside the man with whom I would share my life. God’s been so faithful to us all these years.
This year as we bow our heads together, hands clasped, we will again number the grace gifts He’s given. One of those is each other. Thank you, Lord.