Putting up the Christmas tree – special memories!

This is a photo from about 14 years ago. The memories are lovely, because everyone loved putting up the Christmas tree- as you can see! We put on Christmas music, found the decorations in the loft, brought everything downstairs and started. Many decorations were made by Andrew, or chosen on a special occasion. There was tinsel everywhere, and the result wasn’t always the neatest. As a family it was a fun activity to do together, with food and drink and even some dancing!

I so miss this. Today we bring the box down from the loft, and wonder who has time to untangle the lights, or get new ones. It has become a bit of a chore. There are so many fewer presents, as people are no longer here. It feels as if it has lost its sparkle.

If we have a Christmas with family all around, it is good to give thanks, and to enjoy all the people interactions, all the bustle and noise. If there are small children involved, then appreciate their wonder and even their tantrums!

Quieter Christmases are just different. There is more space to read, and walk and enjoy music. The Christmas tree eventually goes up, although there is a hint of sadness in its branches.

I remember the verse ‘ Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

There is something about giving thanks when it is busy, there are toys, and visits and laughter and chaos. Yet also giving thanks when Christmas involves fewer people, and less variety and voices. The challenge is to create new rituals and traditions, to form new communities and to find peace.

Gracious God, before Your face, generations rise and pass away. Thankyou for Christmas, and all the ways that we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into this world, the Babe of Bethlehem. We give thanks for the wonder and joy of children, and that they bring this dimension into the day. And we give thanks even when the place settings are empty, and a number of years have gone by. We remember with deep thanksgiving, and we treasure what we have. Holy spirit touch the lives of all for whom this Christmas is tough, and the loss of a loved one so raw. May we all find comfort, and in time courage to create new traditions, for the sake of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

Healing memories.

Resting in sunshine.

Am so grateful for the glorious weather, and the chance to travel early this morning to Fintry Bay in Millport. It was so very peaceful.

As a result of all the restrictions I haven’t been across for over 6 months. Even just getting on the ferry was emotional, the excitement of being on the island after all this time.

Colin’s ashes are scattered on the island, so it was a special pilgrimage to go back. And I remembered many events from the past, some difficult, and some connected to the island hospital, which were a bit mixed! Everyone was lovely, and I was so grateful for their care for Colin.

However the beautiful and healing thing, was that everytime I turned a corner on the island, good memories came flooding back- Andrew making sand castles on the beach when he was small, all of us playing football on the grass, Colin cheating wildly at crazy golf, walking the dog, getting soaked in torrential rain, having lovely meals together, and just watching the sea in all its majesty, ever changing colours and moods.

Of course, we went cycling as well. Colin had poor balance, but once in the early days, he managed a wee cycle, and the pride on his face that he could cycle faster than his young son! We have a lovely photo of that moment- it was much cherished, because he was so pleased to be able to do something with his son. So often his disability made that difficult. To be able to do this just once, was a treasured memory.

Being on the island today was poignant. At the beginning of the day it was misty, and I couldn’t see the hills of Arran. However the mist started to lift as the morning warmed up, and then ‘the sleeping warrior’ emerged in all its splendour, and things felt peaceful. Colin is at peace.

I am so grateful for memories that remind us of family, friends and pets on the island! Much fun, some adventures even. We were all able to go a couple of trips on the paddle steamer ‘the Waverley’ and Colin loved this, though I was always worried he would fall off the gang plank! He never did. And so I have a deep sense of thanksgiving for all the joy even in uneven times.

Creator God, thankyou for the gorgeous nature of your creation, the ever changing azure colours, the salt smell of the sea, the call of the seagull. It so tells of your glory. Thankyou Lord Jesus for the opportunity to remember, and to notice particularly the fun and the beauty, and to find healing and peace. Holy spirit for all who mourn and still struggle, please lead them to memories that can bring assurance and even smiles, and places that bring peace, Amen.