My husband, Frank, experienced many quintessential, Norman Rockwell sort of Christmases as a child.
His small hometown, in the heart of North Carolina, personified every wonderful element of all the best Christmas songs. Lights. Trees. Shoppers. Smiles. Carolers. Hugs. Family. Snow. Santa. FOOD!
I've been there. And I'm pretty sure that the stories he tells are completely accurate............according to the eyes of a little boy.
It's no wonder that when Christmas time rolls around each year, he reminisces with great fondness. Sometimes that fondness turns to longing. He (just like many others) longs for the excitement, joy and anticipation he experienced as a result of all those elements blending perfectly together.
There have even been a few times through the years when I've overheard him say, "It just doesn't feel like Christmas this year."
But we tend to forget that TIME uses a huge airbrush on our memories. Thankfully, we most often reach for the memories of joy.
Trying to recreate the best of those can be a frustrating experience.
I was talking recently with a beautiful young lady about this very thing. She misses her college days. That was a wonderful time for her. Friends. Fun. Learning. Excitement. Love Found.
Now life is different. Work schedules. Babies. Bills. Repairs. A marriage to grow.
As we talked, the Lord gave me a wonderful word picture to share.
Reaching back; longing to recreate perfect times is like visiting a well that has already dried up. We reach into the well remembering the clear, cool water of by-gone days. We anticipate being refreshed.
Instead, the bucket comes up dusty and dry. We walk away thirsty. Disappointed.
Joyful memories of yesterday are time sensitive. That moment was a gift for that specific time. The memories serve us best when we appreciate what was and are grateful.
But those times can not be repeated. Memories can not refresh.
For that, we must visit the wells of Today. We must intentionally lower our bucket into the joy of this moment. This moment is not the same as our memories of yesterday. But only the well of Today can provide fresh, satisfying joy.
Spencer and Abby are fully engaged with Christmas this year. Last night they were each given a gift by a friend.
Spencer sat in the floor and tore away the wrapping on his package to discover a new jacket. He quickly said thank you. (Because he's pretty much a perfect kid!) Then dropped it off with Dad.
John said, "Come here. Let Daddy put it on you."
Spencer looked up with a puzzled expression on his face. "But I have a shirt on," he said.
It took us a minute to understand. This is a Florida kid. He seldom ever wears a coat! He couldn't understand why Dad wanted to put a second shirt on him.
Abby's gift was in a big bag topped with lots of tissue paper. Joy put the package on the floor beside Abby and said, "Okay, you can open it."
Abby pulled one piece of tissue from the bag, squealed with delight and toddled away.
We all laughed because she hadn't even seen the gift. She was content with the little bit of excitement created by one piece of colorful paper.
But oh the smile when she came back; taking time to uncover the real gift. A soft pink blanket and teddy bear.
She walked around showing each of us. She stroked the bear's face and cooed, "Oooooh! Ooooh!" Her smile was huge!
Don't get short-changed this Christmas season; settling for just one little scrap of tissue. Don't leave the empty well of yesterday thirsty and disappointed.
Choose to visit the well of Today. It has refreshing gifts yet to be uncovered.
My smile is huge just thinking of it!