Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Haunting Christmas Memories

"Oh, so you let your kids help decorate the tree."

An acquaintance came by my house to retrieve her daughter from a birthday party I'd given for my son.

I looked toward my fragrant Christmas tree filled with shiny bulbs and homemade Sunday School ornaments. "Yes, of course. We spent Sunday afternoon putting up the tree."

Her gaze swept my tree again. "I never let my family put ornaments on the tree. If I let my kids help, the tree would look awful."

I glanced at my tree. Most of the ornaments were clumped in clusters on the bottom third of the branches. I smiled. "I like the way my tree looks."

She shrugged and left hand-in-hand with her daughter.

That exchanged happened over twenty-five years ago, yet I still think of her comment every Christmas season. Since then my children have grown, and the ornaments on my tree are placed in an orderly fashion. Perfect.

She didn't understand what Christmas means. It's not about the bright lights and HGTV decor. It's not about presenting a facade of perfection.

I was too timid to continue that discussion, and that's a memory that haunts me still. If I could replay the experience, I'd tell her about the greatest gift of Christmas -- a God and Savior who came to redeem mankind and loves her more than anything. I'd tell her that He he longs for her to have a life-changing love relationship with Him. I'd tell her that greatest gift -- an eternity of knowing and serving a holy God -- is free for all who ask. I'd tell her the appearance of the surroundings are irrelevant. It's about the condition of the heart and the soul. It's about the realization of a hope that glows beyond any of the brightest Christmas decorations.

I often wonder about that woman, about what became of her. And I pray that at some point in her life her path crossed with someone who wasn't as timid as I was.          

What about you? Do you have a Christmas memory haunts your recollections?


Loretta Oakes said...

Great post, Megan. I'm sure we all have those opportunities in our past.

Every Christmas I reflect on my friends and acquaintances in my life and wonder if I've added something like your tree. I'm a mess and clumped up, but I hope I speak silently to them and let them know that even in my mess, I love them.

Reconciling with the past is a gift from God through the creature Time. Through God's all knowing Love, He offered us an opportunity to come to terms with our shortcomings and lost opportunities. With that knowledge, we go forth and try again. Sometimes the hardest thing is forgiving ourselves. :)

I'm blessed this Christmas to see a friend who sent me Christmas card many years ago asking for forgiveness. Without hesitating I forgave her, but admittedly at the time I had no recollection of the incident she felt she needed forgiveness on. I think that was God's gift as well. He let me forget the incident so we as two people could move forward. I had no idea at the time how much her friendship would mean to me now. But once again, God did. :) So grateful for that. Maybe your friend will come back? Or maybe God will provide another person to share your faith with. :)

Thanks for your friendship!

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks for joining the conversation, Loretta. I enjoyed your thoughtful comment. Have a blessed Christmas.