Normally, I’m the lady who walks in Walmart, sees the display of Halloween candy or Christmas decorations in late August, and then proceeds to throw a small fit. How ridiculous! Seriously, why don’t they leave this stuff out year round and just be done with it already. Thanksgiving and Christmas are months away, people. Get a grip.
But it seems I have kinda lost my grip on reality as well, because for some reason I am ridiculously...bizarrely...ferociously excited about this fall and winter. Specifically, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Though not just those. I even used a white crayon yesterday - to color a snowman on some dark blue paper. It’s that bad.
Last year, Reagan was not yet one. She was barely walking well enough for me to trust her not to fall over and bump her head on the wall. She wasn’t talking a lot. She was just this sweet little barely-fuzzy-headed blonde bumpkin, roaming around the house. Which was fun, don’t get me wrong. There were things to love about that stage. And many days, you wouldn’t hear me saying that I love this almost-2 stage. But aside from the exhausting constancy of discipline, I actually do love this almost-2 stage.
Sunday, it was gorgeous outside. In my humble opinion, it was absolutely perfect. We pulled into the parking lot at church, and Reagan said, “Church!” I unbuckled her seat belt, helped her out of the car and told her (as I so often do) that she had to hold my hand. She did, and then she reached way up for Brian’s hand. So there we were, walking into church, our whole family hand-in-hand like a chain of paper dolls. You should have seen the smile on her face. And mine.
In those moments, where we’re just happy to be together, where our daughter makes our hearts explode with joy, I just can’t help but look forward to trips to a pumpkin farm, Thanksgiving dinners, 2nd birthday parties, playing in the snow for the first time, sledding down tiny Daddy-made hills, decorating Christmas trees, opening gifts, going to church in our finest Christmas outfits, and celebrating our Savior’s birth. Seeing all those events through my 2 year old’s eyes brings back so much joy and wonder I can hardly stand it.
I have a lot of friends who are expecting right now. A LOT of friends. I listed them in my prayer journal last night. Eight of them. Some of them for the first time, some of them for second or third or fourth time. I think back on the way I felt in September 2006. I was so thrilled to think that I would have a little one with whom to spend Thanksgiving (close call) and Christmas. In all my hopes and dreams and wishes, it was just never as good as the reality. And I know that this fall and winter will be even better than I can anticipate.
Last year I was struggling in my relationship with God. It was more of a distant, if not apathetic, belief. I just didn’t care. And while I had a good Thanksgiving and Christmas, the joy just never really hit me full force. This year is different. I have been so blessed to have a lot of time this past month to do devotions - to read, pray, journal. I do NOT say that to brag because honestly, I desperately needed it and have been working very hard on cleaning up some areas of my life and my heart. I’m by no means “there”. But it has been wonderful to understand finally that the phrase “the joy of the Lord is my strength” doesn’t mean “when God is happy, I’m happy”. The joy of knowing that the Lord knows me and loves me deeply allows me to go through hard times with a great sense of hope and perseverance.
These approaching fall and winter holidays are an extension, maybe even an amplification, of that joy. One that I hope has you celebrating early as well.