I have a lot of bittersweet feelings tonight. Since the age of 8, every Christmas Eve or Christmas Day has been spent in our current home. It's both exciting and somber to think this is probably the last year that will be the case.
Right now, while it's quiet, I can think about all the nights it was so still like this, and I, very slowly, anxiously, fell asleep waiting for the delights of Christmas.
This is the only place Henry or Dorothea, and Leo (to whatever extent he can) have felt that lovely bundle of nerves leading up to an exciting Christmas morning.
It's been a long, hard year. I've lived in and out of a terrible, soul numbing, joy stealing sadness that I've never experienced the extent of before. I often wish I had a re-do on the year, and on myself without it. I also find myself wishing I had more time to prepare for the warm ache of our last Christmas here. I know I can't have either of those things.
Instead, I've realized how important hope is. Tonight everyone sat together, and read the 'Journey To Bethlehem' in the The Friend magazine. It wasn't until we were almost finished that Leo had stopped screaming, and it seemed like either of the older two were listening. There was even quiet resistance from some adults. But we pushed on, and by the time we finished the stories, and began to sing some Christmas songs it felt like those days long gone where all I had to do was partake of the Christmas spirit, instead of fight for it, shape it, and share it, often with grudging recipients.
I mentioned to my mom afterwards how it reminded me of Elder Renlund's talk a few conference back-he said the Lord doesn't expect us to be without flaws, but he expects us to always keep trying. I suppose that's true of our worthwhile pursuits in life. I wanted to give up tonight, but I'm glad I kept trying. I've wanted to give up all year, and in many ways I have for good and ill.
As I thought more about the night and Christmases past, I remembered how as a child, I always thought Christmas was the last day of the year. It just made sense to me,frankly, it still does now- to leave the best day for last, and then begin again. As an adult I think it still feels that way, but there is a dose of grace in those days after Christmas until the new year; days to reflect on what was felt, and to remember the hope of the Savior's birth, and to try and find ways to manifest, and reinforce that hope through acting in faith during the coming year.
I'll miss this year, if only because it is the last Christmas in the place that's been home to me the longest. But I'll also be glad of the newness of the coming year in the hopes that I can remember what I've felt today, and know there is hope at the end of it all somewhere.
There is a Savior come. There is reason to keep on trying.