by Barbara Jane Robinson
I remember a cozy Christmas spent in the woodlands of Holden, Louisiana. In a Holden cabin in the woods, with a roaring fire crackling in the fireplace, hot chocolate, and a rocking chair by the fireside, I watched the flames of the fire leap and crackle. A cedar tree adorned the picture window. The lights on the tree flickered and glowed with the firelight. Christmas music filled the air, and I listened in peaceful solitude as I rocked by the fire.
My son Rodney was about twelve and those were the days--the days of enjoying my son and shopping for his Christmas gifts. He wanted a tent for Christmas that year. He got his tent among other gifts. Reflecting now, I can still see him camped out on the hillside behind our cabin in the woods, the cabin I used to call my Walden. For, I always said, if a man could have his own cabin in the woods, his own Walden, then why couldn't a woman? As Henry David Thoreau once had his Walden, I, too, had mine.
Christmas was kept simple, but simple was good enough for us. Enjoying the simple things in life can bring the greatest pleasures. Life is about learning how to enjoy the simple things and taking advantage of them. When I look back on days gone by, sometimes I wish I could go back to the past instead of back to the future for just one day and relive some of those days. I would know how to enjoy them while I had them the second time around, wouldn't I?
Now Christmas decorations are no longer so simple. We no longer go out into the woods and chop down a cedar tree. Last year I had the newest style going, a fiber-optic Christmas tree. A simple star no longer adorned the top. A fiber-optic angel took the place of the star. My son is now grown and gone with kids of his own. He lives in another state, so I don't get to watch him open his Christmas gifts anymore. My yard is the best decorated it's ever been, but my baby boy is not here to share it.
Simple is better. A fancy decorated yard is empty without children to share it. If I could trade it all for the simple times, I would do it in a blink. Appreciate the simple things in life, because they are the best gifts from God, the things that money can't buy, the things that you can't get back once they are gone.
The best years of my life were when my son was about twelve, but I didn't know it then. Why are we always in such a hurry for everything? I spent my days in a hurry to obtain my education, in a hurry to do everything. In life's hustle and bustle, in haste, it is so easy to forget to take the time to appreciate and enjoy life's blessed simple gifts from God.
Now, there is one thing that could still make this fancy fiber-optic Christmas special. If only my grandchildren could see my decorated yard, their lighted faces would outshine the fancy fiber optics. Somehow, sharing it from another state, with only pictures, is just not the same as being able to see shining eyes and glowing faces as eager children rip paper and bows from presents to reveal the gifts inside. Though my baby boy is now a grown man, being able to share it with him would make it special again. Decorations and presents don't make Christmas special. People do.
Christmas today is a yard of blow-ups: a snowman, a Grinch, Reindeer, Santa and Reindeer, but no real live children and grandchildren to share it. Somehow, blow-ups are just not as warm and welcoming as warm hugs from loving family. Yes, I'd trade all this fancy fiber-optic, blow-up Christmas for a simple, traditional family-filled Christmas in a flying reindeer, if I could. Instead of filling the yard with blow-ups, I'd fill it with my children and grandchildren. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I say a thousand words coming from family and friends are worth a thousand pictures.
So, as I try my best to be positive and enjoy my fancy blow-up, fiber-optic Christmas, empty of family, those of you who have your children and grandchildren with you, just know how blessed you are and that you have the best Christmas of all. You don't need fancy decorations. You need the gifts that money can't buy! Those are the best gifts in the world!
I won't be rocking by the fireside in a cozy fireside Christmas this year. I won't have a twelve year old son to watch, as he rips open a tent with shining eyes and a glowing face. Instead, I will have Florida sunshine in the Sunshine State and a fancy, blow-up, fiber-optic Christmas. Make no mistake, as I enjoy my fancy, fiber-optic Christmas I will be thankful and appreciate all those simple, traditional family memories that time and decorations can't replace. I will be thankful that I can still enjoy Christmas and the holiday season by sending my loved ones, who live in another state, Christmas cards, presents, and prayers before it is too late! I will thank God for bringing me sunshine in the Sunshine State, because I trust in God that I am exactly where He wants me to fullfill His purpose.
Meanwhile, I will enjoy my fancy fiber-optic 2004 Christmas in another time and another place, another world far removed it seems, because God has given me another young person to watch eagerly rip open her Christmas gifts. My young stepdaughter will be spending Christmas with us this year, so we will be blessed with a child to enjoy our blow-up, fiber-optic Christmas after all. Even though a fiber-optic Christmas tree replaces a freshly-cut cedar tree, lights will still shine, eyes will still glow and sparkle, and God will still bless. Children are true gifts from God, and they can and do make all the difference! The house and yard won't be so empty this Christmas, and I will remember the reason for the season.
Enjoy your times together while you have them and enjoy the simple pleasures life has to offer, for they are the most precious and valuable gifts on this earth, and they are true gifts from God, gifts money can't buy!
Barbara J. Robinson, award-winning writer and educator, is the author of Magnolia: A Wilting Flower and the soon to be released book titled The Lord had Something Better in Mind. Read a free prologue and poems at her web site by clicking here. Barbara’s books may be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, and WalMart.com.
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