Rachel Jenae

A Christmas I’ll Never Forget

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It was a Christmas I’ll never forget. Reminiscent of childhood memories, relived through the next generation. Bodies sleeping in every tiny bit of floor space scattered throughout the house. The kitchen a constant gathering and the counters always filled with too many yummy goodies. Laughter (also known as cackling when my mom and aunts get together) filling each room and wrestling/tickle fights breaking out periodically. Yes, all of that I remember very well.

But this Christmas was also a very different one-filled with transition for all of us.  My parents and I were planning to spend this Christmas with my dad’s side of the family, in Illinois, but days before we were to leave, we got a call that my grandmother (my mom’s mom) was in her last days. She was 87 and had been fighting with Parkinsons for a few years now. Her and my grandfather live with my aunt a few miles from the town they lived in for over 60 years in the white mountains of Arizona. My grandmother had accepted hospice care just a few weeks earlier and was now in too much pain to get out of bed.

We arrived Christmas Eve and by Christmas morning all 5 of my mom’s siblings were there and able to spend Christmas day with my grandmother.  Over the next five days the house was filled with friends stopping by to visit, great grandchildren rummaging the entire house and running in to giggle and tell great grandma hello. It was her favorite holiday and it was a house full just as I think she would want it. Her room was filled with those she loved and those who love her-singing, laughing, crying and recalling beautiful memories of her celebrated life.

So this Christmas, amidst the ache of hard life transitions, we all felt the sweet kiss of God’s presence and peace over our time together. I felt like God was giving me a special gift just being there. A gift that would last a lifetime, through memories I’d never forget. And as much as that doesn’t make sense in the midst of loss, God has a mysterious way of making all things beautiful. He turns the bitter to sweet, makes beauty from ashes and turns morning to dancing.  And when we invite Him in to live amongst us in the day to day-like He came to do as a baby in a manger over 2,000 years ago-identifying with all of our frailty-we get to experience that same beauty. The miracle of seeing from His perspective. The miracle of hope and peace and joy when it doesn’t make sense at all.

This too is beautiful.