As I wheeled it out, I noticed a small tear in the top of the carriage. I felt sad for my old toy and patched it up with tape. Along with a couple of salvaged dolls inside, these are a few remnants of my childhood. They used to be my constant companions. I parted with the doll playpen and a little metal bed the last time we moved. Yet the carriage and the old babies are there to greet me every time I open the closet.
Suddenly I became melancholy. Doing some quick math, I realized that the carriage is 50 years old this Christmas! I was flushed with memories as I recalled that Christmas when my suspicions about the Santa Claus myth were affirmed.
My dear father, in his haste to take some large presents upstairs a few days before Christmas, asked me to carry the box that held my carriage. Evidently he did not understand how much I was able to read in the second grade or he was too tired to care. As I followed him up the stairs, it seemed that all the glitter and mystery of Christmas shattered like a fallen glass ornament. I wanted to believe that there was a Santa yet somehow I knew it was all just for fun. It was time to start growing up. Even so my brother and I continued to place cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve for many years.
A Sadly Nostalgic Christmas
Earlier last week, I experienced several days of missing my mother — her voice, her baking and little gifts. Six years have passed since she died, six years since my brother had Christmas with us, and about 10 years since my whole family — grandparents, my brother and our children celebrated together. I rarely consider what present I would buy for Mom anymore. A woman friend and I each acknowledged that Christmas can be sadly nostalgic as we miss family members. Last year she lost a mother and this year her father is ill. Another friend will probably lose her father this winter. That can change Christmas and create a bittersweet mood.
Christmas is a time of great and broken expectations. A multitude of memories are wrapped with all the songs, parties, cards, shopping, decorations, and food. Such holidays mark periods of our lives — who we were with, beginnings for babies, divorces, endings for senior family members. Even if we try to avoid the commercialization of holidays, loss can creep into the season and steal away the sparkle. Sadness and depression can darken our days inviting us to believe that this world is cold and we are alone. Yet even in our losses, there is a promise of restoration, reunion and rejoicing if we know Jesus Christ.
I have been reading 1 John this week. In the middle of the first chapter is the reminder, “God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him,” MSG. How bleak and empty this place would be without my Savior — a dark closet of painful memories and imitation babies. He came to bring us light, truth, love, and hope — a clearer picture of our God. And I am promised that after inviting Jesus into my life, I am never alone again — He dwells within me — God with us. There is no other god like Him.
This week I am clinging to a verse in I John 3:20: “For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.”
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
1. Who or what do you miss this holiday season? Could you mark this person/pet/place with a small ritual such as a special candle, treat, or dedicate a gift in their memory?
2. How could you “take Christmas out of the closet” of melancholy memories and create a new positive experience for someone else?
3. Find some Scriptures that speak to you about Jesus as Light, Truth and Love. Memorize a verse for this holiday season.
Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.
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