Holidays full of cherished memories

By Becky Spell Vann - Contributing columnist

Do you ‘delight in’ or ‘dread’ holidays? What an unfair question, right? Harsh as it might seem to dread the holiday season – with love in the air and turkeys the talk of the town, many people do!

While preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, take a good look around and you’ll see many people looking down. An old song, I sang in the Miss Clement pageant plays in my mind as I type. Wish you were here to see me clad in pajamas – belting out lyrics that leave me laughing and crying at the same time. Teardrops wet my hands that show signs of aging and lines of wisdom. I stop to trace the lines inside my palms. Every woman reading this remembers doing that as a young girl. Supposedly, the longer the lines that form an ‘M’ on one’s palms –the longer one would be married.

Lost in thought, I scan the room where I write with wonder. Being still and knowing God was with me (and still is) through every season gives assurance that beauty truly replaces the ashes of the tough times we face in this world! Times (sickness, death, loss of jobs, separation, or any situation that brings sadness and sorrow to our lives) that we may never understand.

Being still and praying for strength and joy to embrace another holiday consumes before I can write another word. In the quiet of the night, I realize many other people are probably in their homes praying the same prayer that echoes over and over in my healing heart. With every prayer, new day, season, holiday…God keeps His promise to bind our wounds and heal our hearts. Standing to run my fingers across pictures of precious loved ones in our beautifully blended family, I weep! Thinking of that short verse when ‘Jesus wept’, I find comfort knowing He understands our hearts when we are crying on the inside and smiling on the outside.

Seeing James and Sarah’s family pictures on the wall beside Tim and my family’s pictures brings laughter to my long, sad face. It’s the hair…the seventies at its best! You should see Tim’s long black hair with sideburns that almost touched the corners of his sweet, smiling face. Then, James’ beautiful red hair was so big it couldn’t have fit under a bushel basket. And I delighted in knowing that God loves me so much that he gave me two good men to love and cherish until death parted us. My thankful heart beats with joy for being crazy in love with both of them and enjoying our time together…especially holidays!

Sadly, many readers are wiping tears too, for you have experienced the sting of death and dread the holidays too. Yet, God promises to care for us as He does the sparrows as we go forth in faith until He calls us Home. Then, we get the greatest gift of all…Heaven, where there will be no sorrow or tears, just happiness – being together with our Lord and loved ones forever and ever. Though we may cry during the night (tough seasons), when we remain faithful and look to God for direction to enjoy holidays (every day), JOY comes in the morning.

Heading back to my computer, words flow like a fountain. Holidays may be hard for many of us who have empty chairs at our tables and memories brewing with sweet aroma of coffee and cider that fill our homes, but with the help Jesus sends (in ways we do not always embrace)…we will survive and beauty can come from the ashes!

Dread the holidays…why? When we are grounded in the love of Jesus Christ and embellish the beautiful love story of Christmas, dreadful days become delightful seasons when God puts love in our hearts. Just as Mary and Joseph had to make hard decisions in their tough seasons, so must we! Happiness doesn’t just fall from the sky like a shooting star. We must muster enough faith to make choices, carry on, and believe that God meant it when He promises to bring good from the bad. And He will…even during the holidays.

Holidays may not be easy for many of us, but we do them (decorating, shopping, baking, church plays, wrapping, and waiting…) because we are with the ones we love. The grandchildren running up the sidewalk, the cup of coffee with children who haven’t been home in a year or children who have been home every day during the year – before the rest of the house awakes, the baking of favorite foods and joy of seeing the turkey turn out just right, watching the Macy’s Parade with aroma and laughter of loved ones filling the air, playing corn hole and holding your own even though you’re the oldest one in the crowd.

We do holidays together for that moment when…for a moment, everyone is quiet as we hold hands around the table and thank God for family and friends and pumpkin pie. We love to be with the ones we love…So does God…How else can we explain what He did? Between God and us there was a distance…and He couldn’t bear it, so He did something about it! He sent His greatest Gift (Jesus) to save us and a Helper (Holy Spirit) to live in our hearts. He gave LOVE, put it in our hearts, and we are never alone…even on holidays.

Before closing my story, the old song I sang in the seventies surges again. So, I sing for joy in the middle of the night while memories flood my mind. Remembering Tim coming backstage after the pageant and kissing me in front of the whole world makes me feel so young and in love. Remembering James kissing me on my forehead before asking me to be his wife makes me feel so old and in love. It isn’t how young or old that counts as we live life to the fullest…it is that we keep putting love in our hearts…even when they are broken and bruised.

So, the song I sang long ago and still sing in the sunset years of my life helps us delight, not dread all the days of our lives…especially holidays!

‘Take a good look around and if you’re looking down, put a little love in your hearts. I hope you will find, kindness should be your guide, put a little love in your heart. And the world will be a better place, for you…and for me – you just wait and see! Put a little love in your heart.”

May your holidays be filled with time for God our Father, love, laughter, family, and good food! Amen.

By Becky Spell Vann

Contributing columnist

Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.

Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.