Yesterday morning, I woke up quite early. 7 a.m. to be exact. And while this is normal for most on Christmas morning, I found myself thinking back to the fact that I haven’t woken up early on Christmas morning for quite some time. The house was quiet. No one was awake. I stared towards the window, watching the sunlight sneak through the blinds and dance with specks in the air. It was calming and brilliant–as if God was saying “Look at what I’ve created. This moment is for you.”
Those words echoed throughout the day, too. First, as I called each of my grandparents to wish them a Merry Christmas. What a reminder that as we grow older, distance makes the holiday seasons a bit harder. My grandmom Elaine was particularly reminiscent of times where children were younger, reminding me that Christmas is always better with children who believe in the magic of Santa Claus. She was spending time with some of my cousins who are still young enough to wake up at the crack of dawn with excitement for what Santa brought on his sleigh. My grandma Maria reminded me that Christmas was meant to be spent gathered with family as she prepared a feast for family members. My grandfather Brown spoke of distance, reminding me of Christmases we used to spend in the glorious mountains. My grandma Ces told me of a meal she prepared for friends, reminding me that family isn’t solely blood. My grandpa Art talked about distance, as well, specifically the distance of Florida as my parents prepare to leave.
You see, if anything, this Christmas taught me that being away from family on the holidays can be hard and sadder than I could have ever imagined. After talking to my grandparents, I spoke to my mom and dad, who I was also away from this year. Due to the move and lack of children home for the holiday, I’m assuming my home did not feel like Christmas this year to them either. My parents didn’t get the chance to put up the tree. They didn’t make cinnamon roles. We didn’t gather around the tree to pray a prayer of thanks for Jesus’ birth. We didn’t go to the Christmas Eve service together. Dad didn’t hand out presents. Jess, Dyllon, and I didn’t tease each other endlessly. Our traditions, things that we had established years ago, did not occur this year, because we weren’t together to make them happen.
My siblings and I, although we didn’t talk on the phone, did text each other throughout the day. I think all three of us felt the pang of being apart during the holiday season. My brother, the only child at home this year, told me that Christmas felt weird. My sister said it was a Christmas without a dinner and without family. We all felt the absence of one another.
However, even with Jess in Kentucky, Dyllon in Texas, and me in Oklahoma, my brother still reminded me of simpler times when we were younger. In a moment of trying to cheer us up, particularly my sister, Dyllon reminded us of times when we used to search the house for hidden presents before Christmas day. Of course, that reminded me of the year my parents hid my brother’s Christmas rifle under his bed for months–something he never found due to the amount of crap he stuffed under his bed.
Then, I realized that although distance could really stink, it was not the end of the world. Because at the end of the day, I was reminded of the love of my family. My brother and sister, even in distance, still tried super hard to cheer each other up. My mom and dad were only a phone call away and wished me a Merry Christmas, which was one of my favorite holiday wishes this year. My brother and sister reminded me that they loved me. I felt my home even when I was a thousand miles away.
Lucky for me, Christmas didn’t only mean long distance this year. I was blessed to spend Christmas with the Eckhart family as well. Growing up, my family spent a lot of holidays with friends that felt like family and this was no exception for me. They made me feel so welcomed in their home. They even provided me with my very own stocking–glittered ‘Paige’ letters and all. With the Eckharts, I was able to experience new Christmas traditions-pancakes, opening gifts one at a time based on age, playing a board game, and reading on a couch. I was even blessed enough to help with Christmas Dinner and given the chance to make my mom’s garlic mashed potatoes– a reminder of home when my heart ached for it so much. There was lots of love, lots of laughter, and lots of Christmas.
You see, this Christmas was extremely different than any other Christmas I’ve ever had before. Nonetheless, it was filled with endless amounts of love and care. It was full of prayer and glory given to God. It was reminiscent of past Christmases and shined a bright light on new traditions. It was full of moments that God gave me. Moments that I believe are truly special.
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that God will be given glory no matter who you’re with on Christmas. Jesus’ birth will be celebrated. People will gather with one another and commune together. They will bring one another joy and love and thanksgiving.
This Christmas season I was given so many gifts that will forever fill a special spot in my heart. My brother and father were baptized. I was able to speak with each family member on Christmas. I was able to spend time with new friends and partake in their traditions. More importantly, I was able to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, which is a gift I will celebrate every single day of my life.
You see, we get older and traditions change. Family spreads apart. Coming together is more difficult. But God is with us always. Not only that. God is with our loved ones always. What could be greater than that?
I hope you all had a Merry CHRISTmas. Continue to remember God throughout the rest of your holiday season and throughout the New Year.