December arrived with it’s blissful bestowal of Christmas. As the renowned carol sung by Andy Williams proclaims, It truly is ‘the most wonderful time of the year.’ It is a time of celebrating Christmas past, along with Christmas present, the love of our family and friends, a time of joyous sharing and heart felt giving, delicious sweet confections, festive cuisine and reveling in the greatest gift of all time, JESUS, Our HOPE, PEACE, The LOVER OF OUR SOULS and our REDEEMER. He is God’s gift to the world, given with His infinite heart of love for His children.
Before I begin this next chapter on our journey, I want to share a special song with you. It is sung by Josh Grobin, (one of Kits and my favorite singers) and accompanied by a beautiful short video, proclaiming what Christmas really is all about! As you feel the joy it depicts, know that’s what we were feeling as well, as we ended the year celebrating Jesus and the gift of HOPE that God has given to us through His birth.
Christmas is a hallmark in our lives…For some reason, if you ask someone what they were doing September 30th of last year, they have to check their calendars, journals or date book to tell you, but we all seem to remember our Christmas’s over the years of our lives.(Most of them,anyways.) Last year, in our beautiful town home in Alexandria Virginia, we were all packed up, the house thoroughly cleaned for its new residents, awaiting God’s green flag to go to Connecticut.(If I had known we were not leaving until the second week of January, I probably would have decorated the house, (and all the boxes as well.) , but I think the Lord purposefully had us exactly where He wanted us that day. We had a wonderful Christmas day without all the trimmings…We spent the morning worshiping the Lord, talked to our friends and family on the west coast, enjoyed watching some great heartwarming holiday classics on our unpacked TV and for our Christmas dinner, delighted in a Stouffers lasagne, cooked in our microwave, ( so we wouldn’t have to use our meticulously cleaned oven.) (All of you ladies out there know what I am talking about after you have cleaned your home for a move.)
This year, the Lord blessed us with both a South Carolina and a Maritime- Delaware Christmas. We were honored as well as touched, to partake in my cousins and his family’s celebration at the “Big House,” throughout the month of December. Their antebellum home looked like something out of a fairytale…A gorgeous, 14 foot, freshly cut tree, embellished with decorations, old and new, created an awe-inspiring ambiance as did the rest of their home, as each room was bedecked with a brilliant showcase of the seasons splendor. The buoyant joy and excitement of Joshua, Tyler and Julian was resplendently contagious . “Oh to be a child again at Christmas.”
I could not stop thanking God that we had our own cozy haven to bedeck this year for the festive season. Opening up all our Christmas boxes was a sublime experience. I knew I couldn’t use EVERYTHING, but I was able to amply create a magical winter wonderland with lighted topiary trees, traditional wreaths, a festive and beckoning tablescape, our Christmas village enlivened with miniature white lights , swags of garlands a glow with dried red roses, our treasured nativity display and our collection of animated, jubilant snowmen. We treated our selves to Yankees divine Christmas candles, “Home for the holidays” and “Balsam and cedar”,(their fragrances wafting through our home was so Christmasy .) I don’t think there was day that we didn’t have Harry Belefonte, Amy Grant or Mannheim steamroller Christmas carols filling our home with the mirth of the season. Oh and I forgot to tell you, that the Lord blessed us with a Christmas tree! During our last visit to Milford, our Friends Dina and Sam sent us home with the most gigantic artificial (beautifully shaped,) Chritmas tree. ( Even in its box, It barely fit in our jeep) You may ask, how did you fit it in your little home? Well, there are just some things in life you make room for. We made it fit. Yes, it was a little cluttered, but none of us cared as when it was lit up with all of our many, many years of keepsake ornaments, (memories galore,) we thankfully relished in all of its over sized glory.
“There is nothing like trimming the tree with memories, as each year of our lives, we add a new Christmas ornament to our trees.”
Besides being totally blessed by all the lively decor of the inside of our homes, Kit, Graham and I ventured out into the community to enjoy the cities celebration as well. Our tradition of viewing the lights was beyond our expectations. Beholding all the antiquated southern homes was like being at Disneyland, only experiencing it stepping-back in time. Each home creating their gladsome display with their own signature style of what Christmas meant to them, with lighted angels, life like nativity scenes, enchanting oak trees lit with thousands of glittering white lights or Santa in his sleigh with all of his 8 reindeer ready to take flight. We had so much fun helping Mike and Ellie with their church’s Christmas fete…Kit was a maître d’ (looking quite dapper in his vest and bow tie, if I say so myself) and I helped Ellie decorate the tables in an array of sundry Christmas themes. The dinner was delicious and the entertainment, definitely a ‘5 Star.’ As I sat at the table with my Southern family, I couldn’t help but get teary eyed as everything was centered around Jesus…the comedians, musicians and singers, all glorifying the Lord as hundreds of people could not help but feel a touch of His presence and love...It was a night I will always remember.
One unexpected surprise God had for this miraculous season was Ellie sharing with us about a family she knew that was in need… They had 6 children, (though she was not sure of their ages,) living in a home with no running water, their beds were shared mattresses on the floor, they had little food and Christmas for them was only but a dream. Kit and I , knowing we had no money to give , asked the Lord what He would have us do. When He began to speak to us that day, I can’t even express the joy we felt within as He began telling us what was on His heart. “Give to them from the wealth I have given to you.” As we went around to each of our rooms in our little two bedroom home, He would tell us what He wanted to give to this family for Christmas, so we began filling some boxes . He surprised me with some of the things He chose, but He knew their ages, needs and desires, we did not. We had never felt such a euphoria to give things away as we did that day…I had a fairly new, (hip -teenager style , ) blue jean jacket, some Teddy bears and bunnies from my collections and Kit excitedly found some books, T-shirts, sweaters and we had plenty of canned goods to send..There was one thing that I had to ask the Lord two times if it was really His voice telling me to place it within the box. (OK, yes, I really , really loved it,) but I was also thinking it would not be something a child would want. It was My favorite blue and white, English rose, floral throw. He confirmed it with a big yes, so it too went in the box with a great joy. Ellie drove down to pick up our boxes and we were taken aback at how much people had already given to this family in need. She drove over to their home with Tyler and later on in the day, stopped back by our place. I started crying , (tears of joy,) when she told me that the little girl who received the blue and white floral throw was completely elated over her new treasure. She could not wait to go and place it upon her mattress, stepping back in awe at how beautiful it was. I could feel the Lord smiling as He knew that little girl would receive so much joy from the gift He had chosen especially for her. God is so GOOD! We knew God had blessed us, by allowing us to partake in what Christmas is really all about.
Christmas day, we had a wonderful time of worship with the Lord, lit our felicific candles, enjoyed our traditional holiday breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, freshly baked cinnamon rolls and plenty of lattes. We enjoyed a few calls from family afar, took a walk up to the ‘Big House,’ and enjoyed seeing Mike and Ellie, a few of my other cousins and of course the boys as they excitedly showed us all their treasures from Santa. We each picked our favorite holiday movie to watch, Kit made his famous pumpkin Pie and we baked a delicious Stouffer’s lasagne with garlic bread, (Yes, can you believe we did it again?) Kit and I thanked God for a home to celebrate in and for His goodness, grace and loving kindness to us…it was a beautiful day!
We packed up our jeep and drove to Delaware the next day. Christmas in Milford was just as beautiful…Tina and Marks home , as always was decorated with so much color, warmth and festivity. We enjoyed many a day in front of their fireplace, enjoying their live tree, Christmas music and many a chat over Starbucks coffee and flavored creamers. Melissa and Carl, though not youngsters like Tyler, Julian and Joshua, had more fun showing us all their Christmas gifts, Tina was busy in the kitchen cooking up something delicious and Mark and Kit were busily playing with some new computer gadget Mark had received from the kids for Christmas. Graham was so content being back with McPherson, (his girlfriend) and Kisses in front of the fire. As I sat there, so fully at peace, I felt as if we were HOME! Tina invited a few of the couples we had come to love over for lunch one day , Vito came to teach his bible study one evening and it was so good to bask in his teachings and share in all the wondrous fellowships afterward. As a bonus, (another tear jerker,) Tina and Mark gave Kit and I each a card with a hundred dollar bill tucked inside for our Christmas gift. Both of us were beyond blessed. Kit and I took an afternoon and drove down to Rehoboth Beach with Graham, enjoying the deserted shoreline, chilly breezes accompanied by the songs of the seabirds as they glided over the calm, splashing waves. We had the best time stopping at our favorite coffee pub, and going to our much adored shops at the outlets. (One of them being ‘Le Gourmet Chef,’ where they offer free samples at every corner of their charming store, and if you time things just right, you can make a very delicious and savory meal out of it.)
During our stay in Milford, it seemed that every time we saw each of our new friends or spent time with Mark and Tina and the family, our conversations ended with them saying; “We just love you guys so much and want you to be back here with us in Milford.” Besides making us feel wonderful, Kit and I were in total agreement… So we all concurred to keep praying for an open door from the Lord and His perfect timing.
Vito made our day when he told us the Lord had placed it upon his heart to start coming to our home in South Carolina once a month to have a bible study. We were ecstatic… that meant all three of us would see him every four weeks, and of course he would have to stay over as the drive alone was 9 hours… what a way to begin our new year!
We drove back to South Carolina with far more than we had come with, our hearts overflowing with love, acceptance and a magnificent refreshing within our souls!
What a beautiful month and Christmas season God had so graciously given to us, filled with so many new memories and blessings…I still kept thinking about that little girl and the blue and white throw…and I thanked God He blessed us to be a part of His love and desires for that family. Nothing compares to experiencing the joy of the Lords heart!
Isaiah 12:6 “… Shout, and sing for JOY O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
PHOTOGRAPHS: In scrolling upon any of the photos or graphics, it will display where each picture has originated from.