Celebrating the past

Emails, facebook, and Instant Message are my go-to communication tools.  But come mid-December, you can find me affixing stamps to our family’s annual Christmas letter. I can remember helping my mom lick stamps and envelopes, and then carefully stacking the cards in neat piles. Fifty years later, I do the same.

Each December I pull out my tattered address book. It’s fairly small with tiny address tabs for each letter of the alphabet. My grandma gave it to me when I was a teen along with an ample supply of stamps and stationery so I would WRITE to her (this was before personal computers, cell phones or Internet).

I still use this same address book. Wisely, I used pencil. It’s now like a diary of the nomadic life of my friends and family. Some addresses are erased multiple times as moves took them to new homes or towns. For others there are handwritten additions with names and dates, reflecting growing families.

Still others have lines through them indicating a loss of contact, or a divorce that separated lives. In my own family, I see my dad’s final address as well as my mom’s. In my heart, I know that this was just their final earthly address.

As I thumb through the pages of my worn address book, it’s a stark reminder of all the years that I’ve lived. This doesn’t make me sad, instead, I think about the journeys of everyone I know and have known. Year after year, even with miles of separation our hearts remain close.

Now finished, I put my address book away for another year. This is just one of the season’s traditions that has woven its way through all the Christmas celebrations of my life. 

In this electronic age, I could click and send, but I just can’t. Christmas encourages me to stop or at least slow down. To celebrate, I strive to recreate the same memories of my past. There seems to be  comfort in doing so. The scene in Bethlehem celebrates the past.

But if I hope to grow up, like a child does, I can remember the past, but I can't remain there. I also need to celebrate the future. While the Christmas story begins in a stable it ends with an empty tomb. Jesus was born so I could truly live. He knows my story from beginning to end—and yours too.

Jesus has a heavenly address book and longs to write all of our names in it. His address book never fades, or falls apart, and He doesn't need to use a pencil--He always knows exactly where we are and where we'll be.

Christmas is much more than all my old traditions. I'm celebrating the One who connects my past to my future through every day I have.

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