I am sentimental, especially at Christmastime. This year it has felt particularly fun to decorate for the season: our kids are more interested in the stories behind our decorations, and last year we were in our third temporary home without much space or means (or energy!) to decorate.
I have loved having “real” help from especially the older kids (photo below is with our friend Haruna who dropped by,and helped untangle Christmas lights).
Almost every ornament on the tree has a memory or meaning attached…. Eric and I have tried to geet away somehow almost every year for our December anniversary, and we have found a different tree ornament each time. On family vacations we have tried to pick out a special remembrance. And then those special homemade ones….
One of my most prized possessions is my Santa pitcher. My Grandmom Plumb made it as one of many ceramics that she molded and painted during her younger years. I am guessing that it could be sixty-five years old or so. I love it as it reminds me so much of my grand mom who passed away about fourteen years ago this season (photo below: top right, above my snowman collection!).
Sometime around 1987, I went with a team of favorite friends to the Dominican Republic on a missions trip (Anne, Lauren, Julia, Diane….). There weren’t many fun gifts from our shopping excursion one day, but we all fell in love with the handmade sets of ceramic nativity sets. Most of us bought several — I took some back for my sisters and friend Kris and for me. It was my only Christmas decoration that went with me from Washington DC to Japan for three years and then to Los Angeles where I attended seminary and met and married Eric.
Our first Christmas after our one year anniversary we were robbed. Our storage unit was broken into, and two boxes of our favorite Christmas decorations were gone – including my D.R. nativity set. I was crushed.
Our friends the Weigels in New Jersey told their young girls about our misfortunate. Each night their youngest, Laura, would pray that God would help us to “find” our nativity set. Her mom Kris didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was long-gone somewhere in Los Angeles and wasn’t coming back…
The next month my Dad was cleaning out the basement of our family home in New Jersey. He found a box all wrapped of a — a new D.R. nativity set. My sisters all confirmed that they had theirs safely stored in their own homes. All that we can figure is that those years ago I had bought an extra set, and forgotten about it. It remained buried in our cellar for eleven years – until a month after a four year old prayed and asked God to help us find the nativity set. Every year since that Christmas I take out this replacement set –with great care– and smile at the kind provision of God.
The other story is tied to our Christmas stockings. About five years ago we were back in the US for a seven month home assignment. After Christmas we went shopping at a Pottery Barn outlet, and found awesome quilted stockings on clearance. Kaaa-ching!! I picked out five for our family (two red male ones; three light blue female ones) and went home. When I got them out to show Eric, I laid them out and discovered — I had accidentally bought six – three boy and three girl ones. The outlet was two hours away- no way was it worth returning the extra. I was kind of mad at myself but stuck them all in our boxes to be shipped to Japan.
That next September we were asked by our adoption agency to be a foster family for a few months to little Yuu kun. Most of you know the story… Over the next few months God made it more than abundantly clear that God wanted him to join the Takamoto family. The following Christmas, I pulled out our stockings – and realized – that the mistaken purchase provided exactly what we needed for Ian Yuu, our final family addition.
I think as I get older I realize more and more how sweet our Jesus is! So thankful for how He finds quirky and wonderful ways to remind us of His love. They are displayed all around us, whether it’s Christmastime or not. These are the things of Christmas decorating that I want our children to remember as we pass along our holiday traditions.