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Yesterday was a bittersweet day for me. I do love all things Christmas and yesterday I found myself amid MANY boxes of decorations trying to sort through and decide how to downsize a bit. I say every year that this is the year I will go through my decorations and decide what can be passed on to someone else, what can be used, what can be stored away, and what can be trashed. I did it today. It was painful. Holding the memories of 46 years in my hands, reliving times with family and friends who are now celebrating Christmas in heaven brought me to much reflection, much thanksgiving and a few tears.

For the first time I lovingly packed away the stockings that we hung year after year when the children were small. I couldn’t help but remember that first Christmas after Dawn’s death. We were just a few months out from her passing and I knew the holiday would be hard. We were doing well unpacking and putting up our decorations until we got to the stockings. Jonathan was only 8 years old and when he lifted the stockings out of the book the tears began to flow. He missed his sister. They had enjoyed every moment of Christmas together. Everything from buying and wrapping surprises for the rest of the family to giggling under the covers on Christmas Eve had been a shared experience. Now he had to do it on his own at the tender age of 8. That year we decorated the house but we packed everyone up and headed for the mountains for the actual holiday. We could not bear to spend the first Christmas at home without her. It was a healing retreat and the only Christmas we have ever spent away from home.

We have a lovely, hand painted Nativity that my mother gave us three decades ago. It is one of my favorite adornments for the holidays. Yesterday as I unwrapped and placed each character in the scene I smiled as I noticed the knicks and cracks of wear. The angel who hangs majestically over the stable has broken tips on both wings. The sweet brown cow who lays beside the manger is missing one horn—you get the picture. If you view it from a distance you don’t notice the flaws but when you hold them lovingly in your hands and place them in their assigned spots you see the breaks. Tears again as I realized anew we are all broken. Some of us have worn our “breaks” for the world to see as we have buried our children, our friends, our extended family. Some of us have tried to super glue the breaks back together but the seams and scars still show. For some the breaks are completely hidden from the world but they are painful just the same. But the wonderful thing is the Hands that lovingly unwrap us and place us in the spot that He has reserved just for us knows every tiny crack and crevice. He knows every broken wing and bit of chipped paint. He knows what caused every dent and knick and He loves us anyway. Only Jesus can put us back together again after a fall that breaks our wings— and that’s exactly what He does if we will let Him. I am so thankful for a healing, loving, forgiving Savior. Now as I look at my nativity I think I am most fond of those characters with a little “character” from their scars. I am seeing the whole scene in a new light and I am so thankful for His healing grace in my own life.

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