First Christmas

I survived my first Christmas.

My family is always up early so Christmas was no different.  Growing up, my dad always read the Christmas story from Luke before opening gifts and I always wanted to carry on that tradition with my family.

This Christmas my eyes swelled with tears as I read about Jesus’ birth.  It had much more meaning this year.  Not only was it something my dad always felt was most important, but this Christmas – his first ever – he didn’t read about it.  He was there.  His eyes could behold the glory of the Lord.  He was in the very presence of the Savior of the world.  Worshiping at His very feet.  Rejoicing in songs of adoration and praise.  Oh, what a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see.  When I look upon His face – the One who saved me by His grace!

We attended our church’s morning service. What a blessing – to be in God’s house, praising Him with other believers on Christmas Day!

The day had moments of joy and laughter. And surprisingly there was a bit of sameness. But it was not without tears and sadness.  The day before, the day of, the day after.

A few of us were standing at my dad’s gravesite on Christmas Day.  My mom was earnestly sharing her heart when all the sudden she groaned in pain as a charlie horse threatened her leg.  My brother never missed a beat and immediately cracked a joke.  We burst out laughing of course.

To some this may seem odd or even inappropriate, but for our family this was perfect.  This was us. And this characterized my dad honestly. He had a dry sense of humor.  He loved to laugh and he loved to make others laugh as well.  He would want us to laugh, even at his gravesite.

The day was hard, but it was good, filled with caring people and amazing love.  There was joy and peace felt amidst the sorrow; it could only be by the grace of God.  Thank you to all who were praying (and have been praying) for our family!

Grief has a way of making you hold onto and appreciate your dear ones a bit more. It makes us realize that our futures aren’t as sure as we once thought.  God holds the future and only He knows who just had their last Christmas.  (Sobering reminder!)

My dad’s death was the first of many this year who were within my church family or acquaintances.  As I hear about each death, my thoughts receive a stronger and stronger pull from heaven. Eternity is on my mind these days. Our lives here on earth are brief. People come and go, but we all live on. Everyone has an eternity, and it is forever. So, where does your eternity lie?

I can wish my dad was here, but really, it’s not fair to him.  I cannot possibly wish him back here to this evil, sin-infested earth.  He is home now. He fought the good fight; he won the race.  He is right where he belongs.

We were talking about this at his grave.  What would my dad be doing right now?  I said, “Well, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.  I doubt in heaven they are limited by schedules like we are.  Maybe, he is still worshiping Him.” Mom added, “Maybe he hasn’t gotten off his knees yet.”

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