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Twinkle All the Way: Finding Christmas Joy in the Different Seasons of Life

Episode 18: Show notes

As the years tick by and I get older, I’ve observed in myself and others how emotions can be all over the place when Christmas rolls around. The truth is, Christmas time brings with it moments filled with anticipation, excitement, laughter, and maybe even a yummy platter of perfect Christmas cookies – but other times we can feel a tug at our heartstrings that feels disappointment or sadness – and the Christmas cookies seem dry and tasteless!. No matter what age or stage of life we’re in, Christmas is usually a dance between Christmas joy and the occasional note of disappointment. 

Let’s have some fun this Christmas present while strolling down the lane of some Christmases past…

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The delicate dance of emotions at Christmas time

Regardless of our age or the stage of life we find ourselves in, Christmas time seems to be a dance of emotions between joyful celebrations and the occasional note of disappointment.

We all carry miriad of Christmas memories, each thread weaving a unique story. However, a shared principle unites us – the perspective of Christmas changes with each stage of life we’re in. The seasons of life ensure that Christmas “hits differently” every year. With the passing of time, the realization sets in that we can’t resurrect the twinkle lights of the past. Yet, there’s a beautiful opportunity – we can actively seek and discover the twinkle lights – the joy – of Christmas today. Join me in today’s conversation as enjoy looking forward to Christmas present by strolling down the path of Christmases past…

Click PLAY on today’s episode to listen to today’s episode, or read notes from the transcript below.

A Journey Down Memory Lane: Christmas Magic on the Montana Prairies

When I close my eyes and think of the most magical time of the year, I’m transported back to the Christmases of my childhood on the prairies of Montana. Christmas wasn’t just a single celebration at our farmhouse; it was a two-fold extravaganza, each with its own unique charm and traditions.

Chapter 1: Thanksgiving/Christmas Extravaganza at Grandma & Grandpa’s House

In the heart of winter, my grandparents, avid snowbirds, would trade the chilly Montana winds for the warmth of Texas, turning our Thanksgiving into a dual celebration with Christmas. Grandma Bernice and Grandpa Tom’s house overflowed with family, laughter, and the anticipation of unwrapping presents beneath the iridescent glow of the small end table Christmas tree.

Chapter 2: The Second Christmas – A Magical Night

One memorable Christmas, my mom transformed our living room into a Christmas wonderland. A cardboard fireplace, adorned with twinkle lights and mom’s cherished Christmas angel collection, cast a warm glow. The anticipation of my big brother’s return from college heightened the excitement, making Christmas so exciting.

Chapter 3: The Growing Family and Festive Chaos

As the baby of the family, I found joy in the chaos that ensued over the years. With a growing number of nieces and nephews, our family farmhouse became a hub of excitement. The oak dining table stretched to its limits, laden with mom’s elaborate Christmas feast, and the air buzzed with the energy of kids, babies, and the promise of a wild gift exchange beside the Christmas tree.

Chapter 4: Quirky Stocking Traditions and Santa’s Surprises

Our family had its share of quirky traditions, like the stocking ritual where we’d eagerly await Santa’s surprises. Stockings draped over chairs would “magically” fill overnight, holding the excitement of the most significant gifts that never quite fit into the stockings. I reminisce about the year Santa surprised me with a child-size desk and my first Texas Instruments calculator, sparking countless hours of imaginative play.

Chapter 5: Christmas Eve Blizzard and a New Tradition

The tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve had a tale of its own. Braving a Montana blizzard to attend the church service, the idea was born when my brother, chilled to the bone, subtly hinted at his gift under the tree – a trapper hat. From that snowy night onwards, the “open one gift on Christmas Eve” tradition became a cherished part of our festive celebrations.

As I look back at Christmas Past through the lens of childhood anticipation, I found solace in the fact that, even after the festivities concluded, the anticipation for the next Christmas would immediately begin…which gave me great joy again!

Navigating Christmas As A Parent

Entering the season of Christmases as a parent opened up a new chapter filled with challenges, ingenuity, and heartfelt moments. Settling on the West Coast of British Columbia with my Canadian husband meant confronting the reality of living thousands of miles away from both our families. The grand plan of alternating Christmases between our families quickly unraveled due to treacherous mountain passes and unpredictable Winter road conditions.

Chapter 1: Quiet Christmases and the Loneliness of Distance

Despite the initial grand plan, the geographical distance from our families cast a shadow on our Christmas celebrations. With dangerous roads and limited financial resources, flights for a family of five were often out of reach. The quietness of our Christmas celebrations echoed with a longing for the wild excitement I cherished from my own childhood.

Chapter 2: Crafting Christmas Magic on a Budget

Navigating tight finances during the child-rearing years prompted creative solutions for putting presents under the tree. Living on missionary support meant unpredictable monthly income, but it sparked inventive ways to make Christmas special for our three boys. Thrift shopping became an annual adventure, and crafting unique gifts to sell at Christmas craft fairs added a touch of creativity to our holiday celebrations.

Chapter 3: Finding Joy in MLM Ventures

Despite mixed feelings towards MLM companies, they became a source of joy and a way to generate extra cash for Christmas gifts. Hosting cooking parties for Pampered Chef and organizing card-making workshops with a stamp company allowed me to sell products I loved without a significant financial investment. These ventures were a great outlet for me and another way to help get some extra cash for gifts for the family.

Chapter 4: Christmas with Grandma: A New Tradition

The bittersweet memory of losing my dad at the age of 28 started a new tradition – Christmas with Grandma. In an effort to avoid the heartache of spending that first Christmas home without Dad, Mom started a new tradition by spending Christmas with us. The arrival of Grandma and “Big Ben,” her large checked bag filled with thoughtful gifts, became a cherished annual event, alleviating some of the loneliness of being away from extended family.

Embracing the Grandparent Season: A “Christmas with the Kranks” Twist

As life unfolds, each Christmas season brings with it a unique set of joys and surprises. Currently, my husband and I find ourselves in the heartwarming Grandparent season, a chapter filled with laughter, love, and the delightful presence of a sweet little granddaughter. Join me as I share the joyous moments and a touch of humor that define our “Christmas with the Kranks” year.

Chapter 1: “Christmas with the Kranks” – A Familiar Tale

  • Introduction to the Movie: The movie “Christmas with the Kranks,” inspired by John Grisham’s novel “Skipping Christmas,” captures the essence of a couple preparing for their first empty nest Christmas.
  • Parallel with Our Lives: Just like the Kranks, we found ourselves anticipating our first empty nest Christmas, making plans for a different kind of celebration.

Chapter 2: Unexpected Joy – A Phone Call Changes Everything

  • Surprise Arrival: While bracing for an empty nest Christmas, a delightful phone call from one of our sons brought unexpected joy. He and his wife decided to join us before Christmas, turning our plans upside down in the best way possible.
  • Thrilled Reunion: We are thrilled to celebrate with our son and daughter-in-law in person, adding a special touch to this year’s festivities.

Chapter 3: Embracing Grandparenthood – A Love Like No Other

  • A New Chapter: Welcoming the role of grandparents has been an unparalleled joy. As warned by others, the love we feel for our little granddaughter is beyond words.
  • Virtual Connections: Thanks to technology, we cherish moments spent talking with our sweet little granddaughter through Facebook Messenger video. Her innocent waves and greetings melt our hearts, making every interaction memorable.
  • Christmas Joy: Our recent video chat with our granddaughter included singing Jingle Bells and Away in a Manger- creating special Christmas memories despite the physical distance.

As we navigate this “Christmas with the Kranks” year, it’s a reminder that life’s twists and turns often bring unexpected delights. Embracing the Grandparent season has added a new layer of warmth to our holiday celebrations, making this chapter of life truly special. In the grandparent role, every effort to create a magical Christmas is infused with love, gratitude, and the anticipation of many more precious moments to come.

The Real Christmas Story

It’s not lost on me that as I wrote out this podcast, I shed more than one tear. Oh, how I love Christmas! But, memories of Christmases past will most definitely – eventually – remind us of loved ones who are no longer here on earth to celebrate with us. It’s sad.

And, it reminds me of how grateful I am for the hope of Heaven, and for the reason we celebrate Christmas to begin with – Jesus.

Christmas is the time we think of & celebrate his arrival here on earth. He came here to BE WITH US.

He left his heavenly home of perfection to experience life like us. He was born, walked on dusty roads, worked on hot, sweaty days, fed hungry people, and taught life changing, life giving words.

He knows what it’s like to experience loss and disappointment, and he cares deeply for us when we experience it, too.

Jesus never promised that life here on earth would be without its sorrows, but He did promise that He would be with us every step of the way. He’s always just a pray away, and thankfully, he never puts us on hold when we call out to him.

So, if you’re feeling lonely this Christmas, maybe you’d like to go back to the beginning and read the Christmas story. You can find it in Luke 2, and can even just google the Christmas story online and find it. 

Links mentioned in this podcast

More about our Podcast

The Harbour Breeze Home podcast is hosted by Rita Joy, author of the Harbour Breeze Home blog. With lighthearted conversation and storytelling style, Rita Joy will share tips and tricks to help you take steps to help make your home look and feel its best. Watch for new shows coming your way on Mondays.

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