I certainly wasn't blameless, don't get me wrong about that. I could see something was awry, but could not seem to fix it, and pretty soon I began to wonder. Were the old problems back again?
That particular Christmas Day was the best ever. All the children were home and we had a wonderful time. No one was ready to leave, so my husband went to visit his parents alone, and didn't come home that night. In fact, he never came home. it was months before we saw him again.
Christmas Day was the beginning of the worst few years of my life. I soon learned that he was having an affair with a much younger woman. Things went from bad to worse, and before a year had passed, she would bear him a son.
As the summer months were waning, I began to think about the coming holidays. My dread was so great that I could hardly talk about it. Somehow, his leaving and Christmas Day seemed hopelessly intertwined. How could I celebrate the birth of my Savior on the anniversary of the death of my marriage?
When I mentioned it to my sister, she had an immediate solution. She had been thinking that renting a cabin in the mountains where we could all be together for a white Christmas would be the very thing to do. Somehow, Cookie the Super Sister managed to convince our Mama, her husband, all her children, her son-in-law and the grandchildren that this white Christmas was what everyone wanted to do (or at least what they should do for me and my son). Ever the organizer and maker of lists, she soon had the holiday organized into easily divided tasks. Cookie the Super Sister assigned each of us a meal to cook, a time to clean, chores to do. It wasn't all work, though. She had planned games and activities that we could all enjoy. We laughed and played together. We loved each other right out loud. We enjoyed being together. Not once did the avid hunters in the group complain about missing prime hunting season. Not once did anyone complain about missing holiday traditions or long time routines. No one grumbled. No one argued. There was hardly any whining about the lack of snow!
What could have been a black cloud overshadowing the birth of Christ for years to come was transformed into the sweetest of memories by the agape love of God demonstrated by my family. Even now, the depth of my sister's love and my family's sacrifice astounds me and moves me to tears. I didn't deserve it, but I will never forget it. In fact, I was transformed by it. Yesterday's pain has become today's cherished memory.
I've begun to decorate my home for the holidays, dragging out all those cherished ornaments and nativity sets, again this year. The traditional family Christmas I have planned with my son this year will be all the sweeter because of the white-Christmas-that-wasn't and the love that was lavished upon us that year so long ago.
There's a Christmas song that says "Love came down at Christmas". It certainly did! Because of the love of a tiny God-man more than 2000 years ago, love came down again at Christmas in the form of a loving sister and sacrificing family. So much love...
Blessings of joy this Christmas season, dear ones. Merry Christmas!