Christmas Time is Here

I do not have any Christmas decorations up this year.  Not one.  Nada.

This is my second Christmas in this apartment and last year I at least put forth the effort to drag a few bins out of my patio storage closet, hang a wreath on the front door and put the candlestick lights in the windows.  (I love those!)  But this year, I haven’t even managed to do that. And I’m trying to figure out why that is?

Well, for one, life is a lot busier for me now than it was at this time last year.  Being a member of Victory Orlando and having a circle of girlfriends who I spend time with socially leaves me with less chill out time at home.  And so, the time that I do have at home, I like to spend it…well…chilling out.  I’m a pro at doing nothing.

Second, I’m maybe a tiny-bit afraid of my patio storage closet.  My screened-in patio, better known as the place where lizards come to die, intimidates me.  What if I open the door and something comes scurrying out?  And was I any more brave last year?  Nope.  I actually had someone help me get the bins out and put them away last year, just in case I encountered a spider or roach.  For some reason, I can muster up a whole lot more courage to battle and kill a pest when another human being is nearby.  I guess the 2-to-1 human to insect ratio emboldens me.

Third, I think when Thanksgiving falls late in November (as it did this year), Christmas seems to sneak up on me all that much more quickly.  Like, if I had to close my eyes and just go by what today feels like, I would say December 6th… not the 17th.  No way!  It does not feel like one week before Christmas.

Fourth, I spent all of last week at home (ill / bed-rest) doing little more than sleeping, playing Words with Friends, reading, watching movies I’ve seen many times before, eating and sleeping some more.  So, that further intensifies this feeling that it can’t possibly be one week before Christmas.

I wish I could write that I’m decorating my soul instead of my home this season by reading through an Advent devotional.  But the truth of it is, I started Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift but after day four I fell off the wagon and haven’t picked it back up again.  Aah!  I hate that part of me that starts things but doesn’t finish.

So, what have I done that’s particularly Christmassy, you ask?  I have listened to Christmas music, that’s what! And I decided to highlight here some of my all-time favorite Christmas songs or performances.

Merry Christmas, Darling by The Carpenters.  A Christmas love song.  Perfect.

This is “Christmas Time is Here” from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, but a super-wonderful, updated version from Mercy Me.  I love this!!

I am wild about the Christmas record Francesca Battistelli put out Christmas 2013 and this is one of my favorite tracks!  “It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share.  There’s a little bit of Heaven everywhere!”

Throwing it way back to my favorite decade, the 80s, is this touching gem from Larnelle Harris.

Another musical flashback to my childhood, Sandi Patty with O Magnify The Lord.

For some reason, this simple song, “Christmas Day”, a duet with Michael W. Smith and Mandisa touches me and I can hardly sing along without getting teary eyed.

Love Has Come by Amy Grant from her 1982 album is a classic favorite and every time I hear it, I think of my Mom.  We love this song and hearing it causes me to remember our family room from my childhood home in Miami, with the bookcases and the big console TV and Mom turning up the volume on the stereo.  She and I both like good music loud!

I heard this song, Here With Us, on my local Christian radio station and was moved.  This is the essence of Christmas.  The Lord Jesus Christ here with us.  Then in flesh, now in Spirit.

I suppose there’s nothing too special about this song.  It’s just simple and lovely and the familiar voice singing it (Lady from Lady and the Tramp), (otherwise known as Peggy Lee), makes me smile.

To me, no list of wonderful Christmas performances would be complete without Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from the movie Meet Me in St. Louis.  (This is such an emotional part of the movie.  Poor Tootie can hardly be consoled and is about to run downstairs and tearfully smash her snowman family).   Judy (as Esther Smith) looks like a Christmas angel, if there ever were such a thing, and I wish I owned one of those beaded head wraps.

A few years ago, I had Sirius satellite radio activated in my car and they have a Christmas station that exclusively plays older hits.  When That Holiday Feeling came on, I could hardly contain myself.  I recognized this song from old cassette tapes my Mom has, recordings of WLYF, the easy-listening station out of Miami Florida.  It’s hilarious to listen to those old tapes, because they contain weather reports from say, Christmas Eve 1987.  Anyway, I love this song, and it’s flirty lyrics. “Let’s kiss cause it’s the season, dear!”

I stumbled upon this song on a compilation Christmas record called The Spirit of Christmas.  It brings me to tears every time, especially the first verse about the young, poor couple.

In the mid to late 80s, two Christmas records were put out by First Call entitled An Evening in December, part 1 and 2.  Both albums are fantastic.  Every song is delightful.  But I made myself pick just one to spotlight and this acappella performance is a work of art with Cynthia Clawson taking the lead.

From the earlier mentioned Francesca Battistelli record comes this song she wrote about experiencing Christmas through the wide-eyed-wonder of her children.  I may not be a Mom, but I’m very sentimental about my own magical childhood Christmases and the lyric at the end puts a lump in my throat every time.  “The thought comes to mind that I may be the one who’s most excited about what’s yet to come.  As I crawl in bed I laugh cause it seems you’re never too old for Christmas dreams.”

Well, there you have it.  I’m sure as soon as I click publish, I’ll think of another beloved song I failed to include, but if I don’t stop somewhere, this list would be endless.  When you combine music with Christmas, you combine two of my greatest loves.


Ten Years

It’s been ten years since you’ve been gone, Grandaddy. I think of you often and miss you.

I’m different than I was ten years ago. Age and life experiences have changed me some. God is changing me too. If I knew then what I know now, I would have prayed for you more, talked with you about Jesus more. And I would have insisted that you have a little pet. Probably a cat. I think a little furry creature with endless amounts of loyalty and love would have done you a world of good. I’m sorry I didn’t think of that sooner.

I’ve inherited traits from you. I appreciate excellent music and a chair that elevates my feet unlike ever before. I love tuna fish and don’t mind eating the same thing over and over and over again. I believe in taking care of my belongings and making them last. And I believe in getting to the airport early. (But that last one, it took nearly missing not one, but TWO flights before I adopted that tenet.)

If you were here, you’d be unhappy with this world. I’m unhappy with it too. But, it’s not my home, you see, so I don’t despair.

I do wonder where you are spending eternity. I frown a little at my uncertainty regarding you. I am certain that I will spend eternity in Heaven. I do not say that boastfully. I say that gratefully. My salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ is a miracle.

I love you, Grandaddy. I miss hearing you call me Sweetheart Darlin’. Thank you for loving me so well.