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Lights to Mark the Season

"Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times (but how could you ever forget them!) when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise Him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for His help.”

Psalm 42: 4-5

I suppose I will begin by saying that Christmas as a mama to six children ranging in ages from 16 down to 1 years old, has taken on a new meaning for me altogether. As fall slowly rolled into Thanksgiving feasts, my focus shifted from the day-to-day to eternity. How am I to prepare little lives to launch into a world that would love nothing more than to chew up their sentimentalities and traditions, and spit them out into Target $1 bins full of distractions.

Christmas is beautiful, when we are cautious about what we care for. Taking care to be cautious; this can be the one gift we grant ourselves at Christmas-time that truly becomes that gift that keeps on giving. Slowing down, being intentional, allowing ourselves the space to grieve the Christmases in our pasts that remind us of newborn babies' breath or fitful grieving. Space to bake a terrible batch of sugar cookies, succeed at our first loaf of homemade bread or plan a festive party full of cheer, laughter and late night celebrations.

This year, Christmas looks very much different for my family. We recently uprooted from our lifelong home in Alaska and moved literally the expanse of a continent to Babcock Ranch, Florida. This should bring on an immense amount of bittersweet serendipity, but it's actually more akin to eating a half-baked cake. You see, we have been planning this move for nearly two years, but I never imagined it would include living primarily apart from my husband, my best friend, while he finishes a political term in Alaska, visiting as often as possible. By now, I would’ve laid the Christmas mantle spread and adorned each corner of our home with its respective twinkling decor, but not this year. This year my cares feel fleeting, and I struggle to find my footing.

Which leads me to the greatest gift I can offer us both. The gift of acceptance. Learning, through salty tears, to lean deeply into the weight of the only today we are given, and celebrating the gift of salvation today. Learning to string up lights to mark the season, whatever season we might be in. It may be a season lacking vision, purpose, or hope. It may be a season full of grateful exhaustion, changing diapers, cleaning up the tenth spill of the day and waiting with tired eyes for a husband to pull into the drive. It may be a season recalling memories of someone we deeply love who isn’t with us today, or may not be in the coming year.

Wherever this message may find you, whatever season it finds you in, I pray God wraps His gracious, loving arms around you, and plunges you deeply into a well of beautiful Christmas adornment. Where all your worries melt away like snow in the bright morning sun. Where every fear falls face down before The One who made the very first Christmas and every Christmas to come.

This Christmas, may we learn to care about this moment, this day, and learn to celebrate it in the most beautiful way, just as we are. -Kristin Cash

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