Christmas Memories and the Costs of following Emmanuel

These are the shadows of the things that have been
That they are what they are, do not blame me! – the ghost of Christmas past 

My favourite Christmas memories involve a family reunion on my dad’s side of the family that happened yearly for most of my childhood just weeks before Christmas where we rented the Firestone shelter house, brought tons of food to share and ate and chatted for hours. It had a crackling fire and I remember running around the giant room madly with my cousins playing while the 50- 80 grown ups from the extended family played card games loudly and sooner or later you’d hear someone shouting that uncle Ronny was cheating. 
My dad ripped our fireplace out when I was a kid to put in a wood burning stove for economic reasons. For this reason, our house in the winter was always so nice and piping hot. Love the smell of woodsmoke and curling up in our living room watching films like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Snowman, A Christmas Story, The Nutcracker (though I have seen this on stage as a ballet quite a few times and nothing beats it as a ballet)  and the BBC version of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. For some reason it was always on at Christmas time in the States. And let’s not forget: A Muppet’s Christmas Carol. 
How can you not love the Muppets and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol mashed together? I grew up on Muppets. Muppets Tonight, Muppet Babies, other various Muppet goings on and love love this film. 
Though I saw the Holiday the other day it did not quite feel like I had kicked off the Christmas season cinematically til I saw an old classic. All nestled and all snug in my bed in England.. while my immense love of fairy lights and candles threatened to burn my room down and Kermit sang of Christmas. Christmas is finally around the corner. The only thing missing was my family and our place in Ohio. 
I have found there to be many weighty costs in my life. For the sake of the good news of Jesus being made known elsewhere, I made a decision to leave home and live far away. I was speaking to someone this week who is feeling the weight of their decisions to live so far from family for education purposes and they said “what is there but family in this life?!” They are going home soon. I wanted to cry and agree with them. They got me on a bad day when I was really homesick. Then something stopped me. There is nothing more important than family. I agree wealth and opportunity and jobs don’t seem good enough reasons to me. Helping people know God’s love and forgiveness is a reason why many of us in my world leave home. It costs us dearly. One of the costs is missing my family more than I can fathom. This Christmas I am getting to go home due to a cheeky Irish woman giving me a tip off that Dublin was cheaper to fly from than London. It’s been years since I’ve had an American Christmas. I won’t be able to see many people. I will probably hibernate with my immediate family most of the time. But one of the things that it has welled up in me, with the vast amount of Christmas’s I have spent away from them is gratitude for the time I am getting this year. This year won’t be spent on my own or with friends or people I am vaguely familiar with but with my nearest and dearest. I don’t know what adventures the Lord will have for my future or how soon I will get another American Christmas so I will take every moment home as precious and savour it this year. 

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