At my daughter’s urging last night, we brought the box up from the basement. I hadn’t seen my wedding dress in over 21 years, so it was with an interesting mix of reluctance and anticipation that I tore off the sealing tape. The dress had been treated and painstakingly packaged to keep out the light and air that would damage the fabric with the passage of time. I had never opened it, knowing that one day it would be time, that this cherished token of the happiest day of my life, would be put to use again.
Breathing a barely perceptible sigh of relief, I saw the fabric was still as snowy white as it had been on that long ago day. Only the sequins were yellowed with age. They shimmered, golden in the festive Christmas lights. When moments later, my daughter entered, wearing the dress, her feet fairly floating across the room, I smiled. Seeing her there, swirling around, admiring the train, the lace, the beadwork, I was acutely aware that this will be our last Christmas with this exquisite young woman. Her beau proposed on Thanksgiving day. Come this time next year, her primary role will be wife, rather than daughter.
Expecting to feel an ache in my chest, I waited. I recalled her final dance recital where it slammed into my awareness that this would be the last time I would have the pleasure of seeing her glide across the stage, graceful movements one with the music. The realization that I was witnessing a last moment had hit me with almost physical force. I nearly had to leave the theater, a weeping mess of proud and wounded motherhood. I fully expected a similar reaction as I gazed upon her radiant face and petite frame, backdropped in the festive decorations we’ve enjoyed since her infancy, draped in my own wedding gown. I waited, but…
Surprisingly, I felt nothing but joy. Anticipation of a new beginning for her, an exciting chapter of life where my role will shift and become something different. I know the pain will come, in fact is rearing a bit even as I write this, but for that one moment, there was peace.
I’ve pondered why this Christmas, this last holiday with her at home feels so okay, why I’m not experiencing a gut wrenching sense of loss, and I’ve decided it’s because I honestly have no regrets. We’ve been supremely blessed to have enjoyed these past 20 Christmases with her. And while I have yet to pull off the perfect Christmas season, I have tried to wring every bit of goodness out of each year that I can.
Some years I tried too hard to make everything perfect, instead making everything slightly stressed. I’ve had years where I spoiled the kids overmuch with gifts they’ve long forgotten. There have been years where I suffered from depression, or was out of commission with physical pain, but overall, I somehow purposed to find the time to just enjoy my family. To praise my Creator for his unbelievable goodness in pouring out gift upon gift upon gift. His love for me, his restoration of me to himself, and his pleasure of giving me time with these incredible people I call family.
Now I am undone.
My friends, it is with uncharactaristic tears streaming down my cheeks that I encourage you. Purpose to enjoy your people. Wring every bit of joy from this season of remembrance, this time of celebration of our Father’s great love. Let his love for you fill you up, and spill out in rivers upon your husband, your children, your friends this year. Can we ever truly know when this might be the last?
Now that I’ve totally lost it, running from my keyboard, sobbing, I can’t help but giggle a bit. What a contradictory thing a mama’s heart is, yes? Only mamas know what it is to be fully at peace and completely unravelled, filled with joy and emotionally bleeding to death all at once. What a wonder it is!
I am reminded on this, her last year home, to be deliberate with my time. With that in mind, I’d like to share my list of must do’s, the things that are non-negotiable.
*Snuggle on the couch and watch Christmas movies. With lots of popcorn, of course!
*Lie down beside the Christmas tree in the dark, enjoying the twinkling lights with my peeps and talk about everything and nothing.
*Take a walk at night around the neighborhood and admire the festive decorations of our neighbors.
*Drive around town, looking at light displays, and enjoying a smoothie.
*Snuggles with cocoa.
*Play board games or card games.
Everything else is secondary. Parties, baking, wrapping, and shopping are good and well, duties we must find some time for. But these are the real riches, the moments our kids will carry on into their own families. These are the gems we will remember and cherish when the house is silent and all is but memory.
Treasure the small moments, mamas. May we remember to make the most of the time we have!
“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~Andy Rooney
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17, NIV)
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