Fifteen years ago this Christmas, I was given a precious gift that would become one of my most treasured belongings. My mother had the gift of giving, as I do now, and although she knew that there was a very good chance she would not be with us that Christmas she still wanted to make sure that her girls had presents under the tree from her. Since she was at home on hospice and bedridden by the fall, she had some of her best friends shop for specific items she knew she wanted to give us…clothes, bedding, gold heart-shaped locket necklaces. I can only imagine the stress some of them must have felt wanting to find just the perfect gift to honor her last wishes. My Momma was just about as much of a perfectionist with her gift-giving as I am with mine. (God knows exactly how to use our gifts when we allow Him to…Annabelle Baskets is a perfect example & boy, do I love it!)
Mommy went to see Jesus 9 days before Christmas in 1995. I was 16, my sister was 13 and my Daddy was petrified of raising two teenage girls…the rest the Lord had already taken care of.
That Christmas morning was about as painful as I can ever remember Christmas being. There were gifts but no one to thank. Food overflowed our kitchen and into our dining room but was made by family & friends mostly left over from her service earlier that week and not by my mother. It was so hard to even look under the tree that morning.
Most of the gifts were expected…the usual gifts you get from your parents. ;) Then after we had opened everything else, Daddy showed us our final gift to open from Mommy. I knew this had to be far more special than anything else I’d received…it was the last gift she had ever gotten us. A one-of-a-kind handcarved keepsake box. Inside she had chosen the words and the scripture to have engraved on a brass plate…knowing that as we grew into women we would open that box every single day for the rest of our lives and be reminded of her love for us…and, most importantly, of the hope we have through Christ’s birth, death & resurrection of seeing her again.
I’ve always thought that was the best gift that I’ve ever received from under the tree. I still do.
What my daughter’s life and loss has taught me even more so is that the best gift ever came from on the tree…a beautiful dogwood that held the Son of God as He sacrificed His life for mine & yours.
As much as I treasure my keepsake box, I treasure so much greater the Ultimate Gift of Jesus.
As I reflect on this day that God ordained before time to welcome my mother Home, my greatest prayer, as I know it was hers, is that you have the same HOPE that we have this Christmas. The hope of living a life in Glory far beyond what our minds can comprehend here on Earth…of hugging our mothers again…and rocking our baby girls for all of eternity…and, most importantly, worshipping at the feet of the One Who saved us.