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AND THE STOCKINGS WERE HUNG?

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   Christmas traditions vary from family to family. And over the years life gives rise to changes. As my family of 6 (2 adults, 4 children) grew, so did the number of Christmas stockings that were ‘hung by the chimney with care.’ At this time, 20 individualized stockings will be filled with gifts, fruit, candy, and nuts. Sixteen of them will hang from my mantle. Four of them will grace a cozy little home, way over in Africa!

   Christmas stockings are a big deal in our family. Every item, excluding the fruit, is individually wrapped. Guaranteeing the escalation of fun with the unwrapping of each and every item. 

   Because we can’t imagine a Christmas without stockings, great effort is always made to ensure stockings and Christmas presents make a joint appearance come Christmas.  This has proven to be a little tricky over the years with our son and his family. Yet God has been faithful. Because of His provision we have been able to send both stockings and presents  to wherever our son and his family have found themselves at Christmas time.  

   For instance, when our son and his family returned to the field in August, empty Christmas stockings were strategically placed within their luggage. In early November, I gathered, wrapped, and packed items for those stockings. Then after Thanksgiving, stocking contents (along with Christmas presents from their families back home) will travel with dear friends across the ocean.  As Christmas draws near, the stockings will be filled with the items we sent, and the presents will be placed around their tree. Come Christmas, my son and his family will have as complete a Christmas as our family can manage.

   Would I prefer to have all 20 stockings filled and hanging from my mantle for Christmas? Of course I would! But God had other plans. And because we ALL trust Him to do what is best for us, we adjust our plans to fit His plans. Finding that His grace is always sufficient and sustaining.

   Besides, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not where the stockings are hung that’s important. It’s that families find ways to connect and celebrate in unison the traditions they hold dear. And for our family, stuffed Christmas stockings, with  our names monogrammed in gold puffy glue, accomplishes that!  No matter where  those stockings may be hung. 

Keeping Christmas Wonderful!

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Christmas is a wonderful time of the year!

  That wonderfulness could be somewhat diminished this year, however, since my son and his family won’t be able to come home, yet again. They are on stateside and we all thought, “Oh boy, we get to celebrate together this year!” And initially it seemed possible, even though they would have to fly home from abroad where my son is studying for his master’s. However, after relocating and getting established in their new life there, expenses proved to be greater than originally thought. Sadly, the much anticipated Christmas visit had to be cancelled. 

 

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  This is the part of missionary life that proves to be quite a challenge. Especially when I hung each family member’s stocking on the mantel. I know that when we (our daughter’s and their families) take down their stockings full of Christmas surprises, it will just plain hurt to see 4 stockings hanging empty and undisturbed on the mantle.

Yet that’s our reality!

   But there’s another reality that demands my focus. While my son and his family were home during their stateside over the spring and summer, we stored up an abundance of memories of time spent and enjoyed together. The memories we made as a family and with many friends grow all the sweeter as we ponder them over Christmas. 

   And next summer we will come together for one more visit before my son and his family return to their mission assignment. Many more memories will be made and added to the store we built up while they were stateside. 

But there’s the main focus!

   What we focus on will determine whether or not we have a wonderful Christmas. So, I’ll focus on the gift of time we were given and that will bring much comfort. But there’s another focus that is paramount to all others.  Focusing on the extraordinary event of the birth of the Christ child and the fact that we as a family acknowledge and celebrate that whether we are together or not is the necessary focus to making Christmas wonderful!

 

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