by Kari Diane Pike
Christmas morning brought new firsts for our family. With no one home under the age of 16, we slept until 7:30 am. While our three youngest children still lined up youngest to oldest at the top of the stairs, they also lined up tallest to shortest.
The unwrapping of gifts revealed ties, books, irons, clothes and chocolate, but nary a toy - and we finished in 15 minutes. We even ate breakfast before 10:00 am. I felt a little bit lost.
Fortunately, late afternoon brought little fists rapping at the front door, more ripping through paper and giggles and shrieks of delight. I shouldn't have worried so much about not being able to spend money on more and bigger gifts for the grandchildren. I noticed that they all pulled on the tshirts I decorated the moment they unwrapped them. I heard their laughter echo through the house and saw their eyes sparkle when I asked if they wanted to decorate cookies. I nuzzled the downy head of my three-month-old grandson and drank in his sweet scent. We played games, started a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, made toffee (Thank you, Christy!), sang Christmas carols, and watched cheesy Christmas movies. Oh, and we made our annual trek to the Phoenix zoo.
What a difference from the week before when all I could think about was how inadequate I felt and how miserable Christmas was going to be because all of our Christmas baubles and trimmings and stockings remained packed in boxes in a vast storage unit somewhere in Utah. My mother and one of my dearest friends were battling cancer, and when the news came that a dear friend and mentor had passed away, I wanted to cancel Christmas altogether. How could I celebrate when others around me faced such horrible challenges?
Driving down Higley Road, after a trip to take my husband his forgotten cell phone (yet another irritation), I turned on the radio just in time to hear "what can I give Him, poor that I am?" What can I give Him? The words echoed in my mind. I felt poor in every way possible - spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally. What can I give Him - poor that I am? A prayer formed in my heart and ever so quietly, the answer filled my soul.
Just be happy. Be grateful for life and enjoy the experience - bumps and mountains and cinders and all. Christ gave us everything -- even His own life so that I could live and love and learn and return to live with my Father in Heaven. The best way to be happy is to serve others and spread the happiness - like lighting a candle and then turning to my neighbor to light his. With each new candle, the light grows brighter and brighter.
"Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Luke 2:10
So, instead of stressing about not having enough time to bake and decorate before Christmas, I learned that it's much more fun to share cooking experiences with my children and grandchildren. Playing at the park creates memories and strengthens bonds much stronger than even the most expensive toy. I can take that joy and light with me to help strengthen my friends and loved ones as they go through their trials.
So as the new year approaches, my list of resolutions has been reduced to one word:
Merry, merry Christmas, and may you create a magnificent new year!