In Texas, it is hot…90 percent of the time. However, right now, it’s October and the wind chill calls for a sweatshirt; the dropping temperatures demand fuzzy socks. Christmas is around the corner. Finally. Fall has arrived and winter must follow close behind. It always does. Even if it’s mild, it’s something I can count on. Winter is my favorite time of the year and Christmas is the star on top of my tree.
Last week our football team played Pantego. That’s right, PANTEGO. Guess what?
It was beyond freezing, although not really- it was actually 40 degrees. To Texans though, 40 degrees may as well be Antarctica.
The stands of people were all bundled up in their coats and scarves. Nudged in close and huddled together under blankets, we sipped on hot chocolate to warm our hands and hearts, keeping the winter feeling alive. We watched and talked. The people in the stands…they’re part of we. They are family.
Anyone could see that we’re united in purpose, by the way our eyes sparkled with hope as we laughed and cheered the team on with enthusiastic encouragement; fueling energy into them as they poured it all out onto the field.
When Jonah from Pantego got hurt, we prayed.
Grace Prep and Pantego prayed together.
That’s what the holiday season is about: Family. Brothers and Sisters in Christ coming together to celebrate. Picking up each other’s burdens. Rejoicing together AND crying together. Despite the rivalry, the differences, as children of God we are there for one another. Jonah is doing well. The power of prayer is truly remarkable.
That was last week. The first hint of winter’s hopeful arrival. It’s now October 30th and Halloween is tomorrow. Pictures in pumpkin patches are posted all over social media. I know you have seen at least ten, and secretly wanted to take some of your own.
In the blink of an eye, it’s November.
Thanksgiving. The family is gathered in the living room, and the football game kicks off at noon.
In the dining room, there is a huge fried turkey and three types of casseroles, one you can’t even pronounce because aunt Marty tried to get fancy again this year. Who knows how many pies the cousins brought over?
Each kid must have made their own pie because they take up an entire table. It is truly more food than you know what to do with. Admit it, your eyes are way bigger than your stomach. Throw the towel in! It may look good but is a third helping really worth it? The leftovers will still be there tomorrow, gee, go take a nap.
Next is December…Christmas. Although I am already listening to Christmas music (and have been for about a week), some are just now changing the station to hear those familiar tunes. It is truly cold and all the children are praying for snow. Some adults are wishing for that day to come when the boss tells them to call it a day. He walks into the office and announces the roads are closing, you need to head out now in order make it home safely. Whoop and holler, let’s get out of here!
The neighborhood Grinch is grumbling as all the neighbors put up their holiday decorations. Little Johnny just perfectly balanced the star on the top of the tree you helped dad cut down last night. Everyone piles into the van to go look at the Christmas lights in that one neighborhood with the lights that sync to the radio and put on a show.
Lights dance and twirl all around the yard. We hold our coffee or apple cider as everyone watches in awe. You can just see the wonder in the children’s eyes, the innocent hope radiating from them. It is intoxicating. Everyone is filled with gleeful-joy, ready to take on the world in the spirit of the moment.
After the Christmas lights, we snuggle down on the couch and watch hours and hours of the back to back hallmark movies. The romantic Christmas movies where the guy gets the girl- EVERY time.
They’re my favorite, no matter how cheesy they may be. I love them. The fire crackles beside us, setting the perfect mood. Sometimes, when the boys are tired of the romance and turn on ESPN, us girls go sit on the porch, each wrapped in a blanket, and talk about life. Our ambitions and desires, plans and problems.
Everyone goes to bed under layers of quilts and comforters. Sweet dreams fill our minds as sugar plum fairies dance in our heads that is, they would if we knew what those were. We wake up to a crisp-cold morning every day of the winter break wishing life could be like this forever while the frost nips at our noses.
Gingerbread house competitions are held.
Guys against girls, of course. They’re fun to make because everyone works together. We laugh as we attempt to perfectly ice the corners and edges of the walls oh so delicately so the house doesn’t collapse.
No one deserves to win, they’re both awful.
Instead, the gingerbread becomes dessert, like we didn’t have enough of the pies that remain half eaten and half untouched on the coffee table.
On Christmas Eve, we go to sleep with anticipation for the day to come. All the kids wake up earlier than the sun, myself included. No, I actually cannot contain my excitement. And no, I will never wake up this bright eyed and bushy tailed again, especially not for school.
But let’s not talk about that now.
The presents are given and torn open in a whirlwind. The Christmas story is read aloud and everyone is humbled by the true meaning of the day. We pray and thank God for sending His son. The evening Christmas service is attended, by more people than you knew went to your church, and the wonderful day slowly comes to a close with more love than you thought possible.
There is still time before school starts again and Christmas will be back next year.