It’s 5 days until Christmas, and we are knee-deep in the bustle, gathered up with the Haines family to wear Christmas pajamas, to eat until we want to die, and then to unwrap gifts. It wasn’t long ago that we had two sets of great-grandparents here and all the aunts and uncles, too. But things change, don’t they?
Today I’ll walk around my mother-in-law’s house and touch the trinkets that used to be at her mother’s house. I miss Grandmom, the one whose red Chanel lipstick I still strangely keep in my makeup drawer. It has the press of her lips in it. And pressed into me, too, is the way she loved me, though I wasn’t born from her people. I married in.
In the early days of our marriage, we would dine in Louisiana on early morning smothered quail. Her linens were from travels to Europe. She taught me fancy things, and we shared a love of science fiction.
Recently I started wearing her big cross again, the one Granddad hung over my neck as if I had run through a finish line, but really it was Grandmom who had crossed over—on to her Jesus and her C.S. Lewis.
Things change, don’t they? The shape of things, how they were then and how they are now, it really stands out at Christmas time.
Titus is asking for an Iron Man Horsey this year, and I told him there hasn’t been one of those invented yet, and he said, “That’s okay, Mama. Santa Claus can make it.” His three oldest brothers never spent a second believing in Santa Claus, but this time around, with our Titus, we’re all letting him believe. We don’t call Santa a lie anymore how we used to. We’re in the shape of wonder these days, too.
Isn’t it strange how missing can hit you at Christmas time, how a smell can bring back a song, how cinnamon throws me into my own Mamaw’s kitchen where I’m ten years old, drinking from oatmeal glass, “spiced tea” made with well water.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the tension, the tightrope slung between sorrow and wonder, lament and a proclamation of JOY.
As you wander the halls at old photographs and smell the memories you’ve shoved way back, remember the tension in this glorious season of waiting. We aren’t there yet, folks, but He’s coming. Feel the sorrow of it all and whisper glory.