Friends & Family December 2022: A Different Kind of Christmas
Merry Christmas dearest friends and family.
Christmas is kinda different this year for Dennis and me. Honestly, it’s been different for a long time.
Years ago when we were raising our six children, almost everything we did related to Christmas revolved around them: their excitement and pestering for Christmas morning; using an Advent calendar that my mother made with squabbles over whose turn it was; repeating our favorite traditions from our childhoods, and establishing our own traditions.
As they got older the month of December revolved around recitals, Christmas programs, teacher gifts, class parties ... and always uppermost in my mind was teaching them the real meaning of Christmas.
One of our traditions grew from an intentional focus on giving over receiving. We devised a new method of gift giving which elevated Christmas morning to much more than a free-for-all with paper flying everywhere ending within 30 minutes at 6:45 a.m.! Dennis and I recorded a new podcast telling that story. If you didn’t get to listen you can go here …..
I tried to find a photo to show what it looked like but though I remember it clearly it must exist on some videotape! So here we are recording the story.
It was a wonderful, fun, but exhausting time of year. I never managed to traverse those days with the kind of peace we imagine Christmas bringing!
But this year there will be no sounds of children in our home for Christmas. Our kids don’t come home any more for the holidays. And we fully support that, because we believe they—like we did—need to be in their own homes on Christmas morning.
One of the best gifts my parents gave Dennis and me in those years of a house full of kids was not expecting us to come to them every year for Christmas. Though we went home to Dennis’s home and mine when we were first married, once our children were born it was harder to pack up everyone and harder still to do our traditions. So we opted to stay home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Some years we drove to see my parents or his mom afterward, but most of the time my parents came to us.
And so we have repeated that tradition with our children.
The challenge for Dennis and me is our six are scattered all over the country, so deciding who we go see, when and for how long is an annual discussion. This year we’ll drive to visit our two daughters who live within a couple hours.
The year my book Letters to My Daughters was published we managed to see all six by flying and driving. I wanted to hand deliver my book to each one of my daughters. It was memorable and worth the effort but we said we’d never do it again because we had no break for the week before and the week after.
With no kids coming to visit for the holidays, early last month I said to myself, as I’ve done several other times in recent years, “I’m not going to do much decorating for Christmas.” But every year after Thanksgiving I find myself pulling out lights and my bottle brush trees and my favorite ornaments. I can’t help it!
I’ve realized that even if no one comes, the lights and the glitter and the sight of my favorite decorations are worth the effort. The only thing missing in our decorations is a tree ... I abandoned Christmas trees several years ago because it was so much work for only three weeks of display.
Here are some photos of my decorating this year.
Earlier this month we had our small staff team over for a Christmas lunch and celebration. After two years of avoiding group gatherings I was eager to once again host this group of favorite people. Here is a photo of our God-provided team who have been a delight to work with this year. We are so grateful for each one.
Since our house was decorated we also invited some friends for dinner, which was also a delight. We do love hosting when we can and the holidays give us an added push.
Also this month, and with great relief, I finished my third seminary class. It was a wonderful class but the work load was significant. The final test was an oral presentation of 30-45 minutes with no notes. So relieved that is over! I am really loving seminary even though it is demanding. It’s so good for me. And I’d love to encourage any of you who have listened to me talk about this adventure to give it a try.
Earlier this month Dennis and I participated in a neighborhood Christmas caroling party which made me realize as I sang familiar lyrics how much more I understand about who God is and why He came to us in Jesus. All because of seminary.
I hope all of you are savoring our Savior Jesus this week. He who beyond our comprehension chose to come to earth and live among us. He knew He’d be misunderstood, maligned, rejected over and over, hated and at the right time He’d be killed. Still knowing all that He’d suffer He came … for us … because He so loved you and me and the whole world.
Two weeks ago I woke up thinking about a woman I know, but don’t know well, who hasn’t been to church in a very long time. We’d just seen her husband the previous Sunday walking in alone as he does every week. She’s been through a lot and I’m wondering if she’s done with God for a while because of her significant hardships and losses. As I prayed for her I wondered if she might benefit from the book I’m working on about disappointment with God. I’ve set aside three full days during this week between Christmas and New Years to focus on writing. I’m eager to keep this project moving, in God’s timing of course.
Merry Christmas once again and may you enjoy these days remembering the wonder of Immanuel, God WITH us, always and forever!!!
I hope you too will always be, Ever His!
P.S. I want to say thanks to so many of you who have given generously this year and in years past for the ministry of Ever Thine Home. As you know December is the season for both Christmas and year-end giving. It seems a lot and yet it’s a reflection of God’s amazing generosity with us to give His one and only Son that we might live with Him forever one day.
If you haven’t given we’d invite you to join us in making a difference in women’s lives here and around the world. We will be forever grateful.
Thanks for reading Barbara Rainey for Ever Thine Home! Subscribe here if you aren't already to continue getting free content in your inbox!