I'm thankful to have made it through Thanksgiving. Honestly that was all I could muster up to say I was thankful for that day. I sat across from an empty chair at our family dinner. No amount of my mom's delicious food could comfort the pain, though I did try.
It was a quiet day, a day of reflection. I was glad to spend it in my refuge at my parents. That home carries many happy memories of Thanksgivings past. So many dearly loved family members sat around that same dining room table. Now they feast at the Ultimate Table in heaven.
And for that I am thankful.
But it is hard to say thanks when I miss them so much.
The day after Thanksgiving, I headed to my second refuge, Casey's house in South Georgia. Being greeted at the door by her sweet girls, Chloe and Claire, quickly assured me I was in the best place to finish out the holiday weekend.
I even helped them usher in Christmas by giving them their presents early. I think I was more excited than they were about the book I gave them - a Charlie Brown Christmas Story. As I sat down to read it to them, I discovered that the story was really for me.
I grew up loving Charlie Brown. My brother even had a mural painted in his room as a child. I guess I had forgotten the story of his puny Christmas tree and his disdain for the commercialization of Christmas.
I could so be Charlie Brown this year.
And that puny tree is about all I have to offer in the way of Christmas cheer.
It is my meek offering.
I did at least buy a couple of ornaments toput on my parents Christmas tree. Both of them have the word 'hope' on them. I stuck them right in front in plain view. They carry a lot of meaning this holiday for sure.
They are like the ornament Charlie Brown puts on his tree in the story. Its so substantial compared to his humble tree that is causes it to bend completely over.
And my prayer is that my hopeful ornaments will do the same - cause me to bend my knees in prayer and thanksgiving to my heavenly Father - no matter how weak and puny my offering.
I'm glad the story ends with Charlie Brown finding the true meaning of Christmas with the help of his friends. I'm certainly grateful I have friends - both young and old - to keep me focused on Jesus too.
Before I left to Casey's to head home, Chloe came up to me with her hands on her face, looked at me with her big blue eyes, and exclaimed, "Melissa, I am so excited about Christmas."
And my Hope grew just a bit bigger.