Well, another Christmas has come and gone. My siblings, nieces, and extended family members spent a few hours together at my brother’s house on Christmas Day – as socially distanced as possible in this year of COVID-19.
I am usually the last one to arrive, but I knew someone else was still missing. I kept looking around, trying to figure out who it was, waiting for that last family member to show up.
Then, I realized who was missing.
This was the second Christmas since she passed away. While I was blessed to feel her very briefly a couple of times during the event, Christmas and other family gatherings are not the same without Mom’s physical presence.
Everything seems off. The amount of drinking has gone way up, for instance. This would not have happened in front of Mom. She almost never drank alcohol. Following her example, I don’t drink at all. I never have, and I don’t like being around it.
At the same time, I realize alcohol is how some people deal with pain. Some of my family members still seem to be in a lot of pain when it comes to losing Mom. While I certainly miss her – especially on Christmas, her favorite holiday – I know where she is. I also know she is free now, free of the earthly body that held her back in the last decades of her life.
I am blessed to have Jesus. I am blessed to have the Holy Spirit. I am blessed to have a personal relationship with God. Yes, life can be painful at times, but they help me through it by bringing me peace, filling me with joy, and blessing me with love. Yes, I experience perfect love through Jesus, and I experience true love through my beloved JC. I am so grateful.
Yes, I know where Mom is. She is with Jesus now. I have not really lost her. Rather, she is simply ahead of me on our eternal journey and interacting with me in different ways than before.
When Mom passed away, I was blessed to inherit a number of her personal items. The ones that mean the most to me are her Bible, her recipes, and her 45 RPM vinyl records.
Throughout the lives of me and my siblings, Mom baked special cookies at Christmas. Mom’s cookies were an indelible part of Christmas for us. Since I have her recipes, I have picked up the mantle of baking her cookies over the last two Christmases to continue her legacy.
Her 45s date back to the 1950s. She played and danced to them so much over the years that they can’t really be played anymore. Instead, I made an iTunes playlist of the same songs. I play her songs whenever I bake her cookies.
My apartment has memories of Mom everywhere, especially my kitchen – which includes elements of her kitchens past. In that kitchen, surrounded by memories of Mom, playing her music, using her cookie recipe, I baked seven sheets of Mom’s cookies on Christmas Eve. I say, “I” baked them, but really, I truly believe I was just being Mom’s hands through much of the process. I could feel her with me, almost the entire time.
It is hard to describe, but I feel her most often as small bursts of joy – about where she used to rub or scratch my upper back when I was a youngster. I can also “hear” her in my head at times – though usually more like a thought or a feeling than a direct voice. For instance, I knew she wanted me to give some of her cookies to JC’s mom this year. That is exactly what she would have done were she still physically here.
Mom loved Christmas and would decorate all over the house, including the bathroom. That is how I know if someone is truly dedicated to decorating for Christmas, if the bathroom is included. In the living room, Mom used to put out large, plastic figurines of an elf riding Rudolph, mice playing on a Christmas present, and a Santa Claus sleigh. There was also a Santa doll and a Santa mug. There were many other decorations over the years as well, but those are the ones I remember most from my childhood.
Last month, I was thrilled to find a Santa mug at Hobby Lobby that was reminiscent of the one Mom used to display. Larger than the one Mom had, I realized these mugs would make the perfect containers to give my siblings Mom’s cookies this year. To better accommodate the mug, I made a few of the sheets of cookies in “bite size” portions – half of the size that Mom normally made.
When I pulled the mugs out on Christmas Day, my siblings immediately connected them with Mom’s mug. They also voiced hope they contained Mom’s cookies.
The cookies ended up being hits in their new bite-sized configurations. I was told they tasted like Mom made them.
That’s because she did make them.
Thanks to Jesus, Mom lives forever, and so will I. The Son of God suffered on the cross to save us from eternal death in Hell.
2020 has been . . . a year. None of us could have predicated how swiftly the entire world would change. My advice continues to be, look for the blessings and keep your eyes on Jesus.
Thank you for reading our little blog. Know that JC and I are praying for you.
May Jesus bless you with a wonderful, active, and healthy New Year!
“Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”
1 Corinthians 15:47-53