It was excruciating.
Today I wanted to go visit her and bring her a couple of things I forgot on her birthday. One thing after another kept me from getting there. I was disappointed, but decided that I'd do something here for her instead.
A couple of days ago, I got a message from the mom who we got the blankets and hot chocolate for. She wanted to know if we had a tree already. I told her yes, but it's a fake tree we were given in our old house - and because of cost and space, we used it, but didn't really love it. We had talked about how next year we wanted to get a real one - but God had other plans! The next morning, she pulled into our driveway and gave us a beautiful real Evergreen....
I love Christmas trees and what they represent - the ever-living tree. It's the only one that stays alive through the winter. The rest lose their leaves until spring, but not the Christmas tree... This is what makes it the perfect tree to put up to celebrate Jesus. He is alive!
Today I asked Matt to bring it in while I ran some errands and then I planned to set it up tonight. And no sooner did I get home and eat and the electricity went out. Matt had brought Des to dance so me and Eden and the boys lit some candles and snuggled on the couch together and talked. We made animals out of hand shadows on the wall. Isaiah kept saying how he loved that losing electricity helped us to "have some down time." I didn't know he needed it so much - and I didn't know I did either. But it was awesome. We finally decided we should get the kids to bed since it was after 9pm and got them all tucked in. The *very* minute we said goodnight, the lights came on!
I came down and started putting lights on the real tree. The smell brought me back to my childhood - and even to the days before Rachel. I had not remembered that we always had a real tree, even in 2010, until the year after Rachel died in 2011 when a friend gave us this fake one.
As a kid, my mom used to send me with other people to pick out (well anything I needed to buy...I was horrible to shop with) Christmas trees. Because when I say they had to be 'perfect' I mean to tell you it took me hours. If a tree had even a hole in the spot that would be in the back, NOPE! Put it back. If it was at all lopsided, forget it. Too fat, uh uh. Too skinny, blah! I've let go of *some* of that OCD since then. :o) Well, this tree is one I would have picked as a kid. And it reaches right up to our ceiling. The tip of the star is touching it.
At first I was just going to get the lights on and let the kids transfer the ornaments in the morning. But I kept going. I realized this was exactly what I needed this year - imagine that - God knew! I put everything except our new ornaments from this year on and will let them do that in the morning, but it looks so pretty... so bright... so alive! And the smell through my house is proof that it is.
It took me quite a while with a few interruptions from kids waking up. I finished it and picked up my phone to take a picture and it was 12:03. You seriously cannot make this stuff up.
This Christmas tree is yet another symbol of my healing process... and another love note from God to remind me that she is ALIVE. She is forever living. Evergreen with Jesus. I may have had to walk away from her body in the cemetery 6 years ago - but she was more alive then ever before as I did. Her light shines bright for all to see. The aroma of her life has remained.
This Christmas is the first one that hasn't hurt as it approaches since she left... and it so happens that I once again have a real tree in the house as it does... ? I don't believe it's a coincidence. Especially since I didn't go out searching or expecting to get a tree.
As we walk through these next couple of weeks and remember Rachel while celebrating her little sister's birthday and our Savior's birthday... as we connect with family and friends - I will breathe deep the scent of life in this tree and memorize the glow of light off it's branches, and let it serve as a reminder of the light and life that is here because of Rachel and that is in heaven with her each moment we're apart.
I will thank God for my Christmas baby(ies) and His.
|our old tree on the left. - Rachel's 1st Christmas tree is on her hope chest to the right|