Christmas Nostalgia.

The holidays seem to bring a sense of nostalgia, don’t they? Christmas time can immediately bring us back to our childhood with distinct memories we are fond of replaying in our minds for comfort or for the poignant moments to ponder in our hearts, just like Mary the mother of Jesus did.

As I walked today, I was reflecting on my Christmas Eve memories both as a child and young mother. I was the youngest of four girls and our house was just the perfect size. As we grew older and married, we began to have our own children too. That same house, at Christmas time, became jam-packed with people, food, music, packages and laughter. It was just as packed as my grateful heart is now reflecting about it.

Yes, our Christmas Eve celebrations were a bit loud and even chaotic but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was lots of people, and loads food and tons of dishes to wash and too many sugar treats. Mix all that with young children, mostly boys, all running around and wrestling and sweating. The windows even steamed over from all the body heat but inevitably, someone would open the front door and allow the late December frigid air to cool down this precious packed house.

Golly, I remember those Christmas Eve nights so well. After our Christmas meal, desiring to all be together, we’d pile into as few cars as possible and head up the street, just a few short blocks to the church. Our entire crew would descend upon the church’s sanctuary for the yearly open-communion service. We’d park our cars and make a mad dash for the door. Gladly escaping the winter’s cold and trading it for the warmth within those hallowed walls.

It took us a few moments, but we’d shed our coats and help the young ones near us, it was all part of the process. We spoke in hushed tones as we made sure we were all accounted for. “Okay, kids come with me. Let’s stay together. Sure, I’ll hold your hand.” Then we processed into the sanctuary like a long Heggen family parade.

I remember how magical it was to open the center isle doors and all walk in without any talking. The place was aglow! It was fully illuminated with only white candles which lined the isles and multiple candelabras strategically placed throughout the room. It was breath taking! Such beauty to behold. The candle’s flames each flickered slightly, dancing to the simple reflective music playing in the background.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Each person or family group could come and go as they pleased, not led or prompted by anyone. Everyone was welcome to sit in a pew for as long or briefly as they desired. A long wooden altar lined the entire front section of the church. When we were ready to to receive it, we walked to that altar, knelt down and were served communion without using words. It was quiet and reflective. It was holy.

This is the first time I’ve thought about those still moments in a long time. It was unique unlike any other time in the calendar year. It was special to me then and is a fond memory now which I’ve pondered because it represented such blessing and family unity. It was a time of togetherness, it was sacred and I’m tearing up even while I type. I believe my tears are like liquid gratitude flowing freely down my thankful face to my fully jammed packed heart.

After the time of candle lit communion. We always had the same routine. It became a tradition.

No matter what, we’d pile in the cars again and tour around the neighborhoods to look at the houses and all the Christmas lights. As the years marched by and many of us moved away, we’d wonder if a particular property was still owned by the same family. “Mom and Dad, do the “SMITHS” (NOT the real name) still live on the corner over by the school?” we asked.

“Hey, do you guys want to go swing by there on our way back to Mom and Dad’s?” It was always unanimous. “Let’s drive by their property just to see if they still have all of the same lawn decorations along with the hundreds and hundreds of stringed lights!” Each time I’d think, this isn’t going to be a big deal. Yet when we’d wind our way around the corner, catch a glimpse of that house we’d all begin to belly-laugh, usually my oldest sister would start it while someone else would exclaim, “YEP! It’s still the same things only they’ve even added to their displays!” Another would ask, “Did they always have the Choo-Choo train?” We thrived on the evening’s routine. It was a tradition. It was great fun.

When it came to gifts and opening packages, we’d start from youngest to oldest as we went around the room. I was the youngest of the four girls and therefore so were my children when they came on the scene, they liked that too. It was such a treasured time for me. Our Christmas Eve celebration seemed to go late into the evening each year as we all lingered and enjoyed one another’s company. I never wanted it to end. I loved it!

I realized this year, that TOGETHER is my primary love language. I really don’t care what it is we are doing… we could be eating, singing, worshiping, doing the dishes, reading the Christmas story from Luke chapter two, driving around the town gazing at lights or laughing, I just simply like that we were doing it together.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity. – Psalm 133:1

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"Who Told You That?"

I’ve felt very distracted today and wasn’t able to focus enough to write. After writing an instragm post, I was waylaid by social media and was glued, mindlessly, to my phone. Oh, it’s getting late and I’m still in my robe! So I decided to go outside, get some fresh air and take my daily walk to clear my head. It helped for awhile.

Then I made myself a delicious lunch and cleaned up the kitchen. Both making lunch and doing the dishes were a bit of a stalling tactic because I still wasn’t FEELING it yet, writing I mean. But I climbed the stairs and chose to start. It’s a matter of the will Rachel. So I sat down beside my Christmas tree to gather my thoughts and begin to write. I love this spot beside my tree.

I’ve enjoyed sitting in my upper loft area with my Christmas tree lit, for weeks now. It is peaceful and tranquil and once I sit down, I never want to get up. I put the tree up early in November because I knew my December was filled with the normal activities and additional speaking engagements. I’ll admit I had a little battle in my mind over whether or not I should put up the tree so early. It went something like this.

Rachel you usually wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the tree. You should get the most out of the season of thankfulness without moving on to the Christmas season. But I am thankful always no matter what month it is. Don’t rush into it. It’s too early, you can’t have people over in November, before Thanksgiving, with a tree up! You really can’t put it up yet it’s too early.

Then I heard myself ask aloud, “Who told you that?” What? Who told you that? YEAH, who? I’m free to do it if I want. NOW is when I have time. Besides, it isn’t a God commandment, Rachel it is only your own thoughts and the influence of others around who may wonder about it… but I decided…I’m going to put up the Christmas tree. SO WHAT? I’m a free agent.

Even though it took me two or three days to put up the tree this year, I had a wonderful time. The outcome was splendid. A few years ago the “pre- lit” tree was no longer “lit,” so I had to put all new lights on this year, 2,300 of them! But Im glad I did it in November because had many free days and I had a few gatherings in my home. I knew it would be good to have the warmth and the festive atmosphere for these things:

  • My parents visit and “Sisters Weekend” (See past blog: Push Past Disappointment- Onward )
  • Life Group
  • “Salad supper and share your testimony” with ladies from Bible Study
  • Prayer times with friends
  • House Guests for four nights
  • Family Christmas
  • Morning coffee with my husband before work

Let me turn a corner and have you read these words from Genesis 3:8-11a

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called the man and said to him, “Where are you? “And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked?

One time I heard a pastor say, “Ask yourself, “Who to you that…”

Who told you that:

  • You can’t put up your Christmas tree yet!
  • You won’t be able to concentrate long enough to get it done.
  • You’re not smart!
  • You’re too short!
  • Your situation will never change!
  • You don’t have a bright future.
  • You aren’t able to do/become/have_____________(fill in the blank)

Word for the wise…It might be good to ask yourself, Who told you that?

Yeah, who told you that you were too distracted and wouldn’t finish a blog post?

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Christmas gift ideas http://rachelinouye.org/store.cfm

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