Merry Christmas

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas to all. It has been a joyous holiday season, with lots of fun (lots of stress also) and things to do.

Overshadowing all is the realization that this is Kathryn’s last Christmas “with” us. I know that she will be home for winter break, and summers, and other holidays. Fortunately, she will not be as far away as I was from home at college. However, I also remember that being home from college is different than being home. You feel a bit like a guest in your own house, not sure where the lines are. The familiar is turned 90 degrees.

Of course, some of this for me was that my parents moved from Texas to New Jersey when I was a freshman, so home really was different than it was all those years. This compounded the differences, thing like the same food not being in the same place in the refrigerator, my room being completely different, and the fact that there was a kerosene heater in the bathroom to start up in the mornings.

Some things are always the same though – the fact that your parents love you, that your family can all be together, and that you have special traditions that are meaningful to you and make Christmas the thing that you remember.

For my family, one of these has always been driving around and looking at the lights in various neighborhoods. Living in the Dallas area now, we have a wide variety of places – Highland Park, the university area in Fort Worth, Interlochen in Arlington – that have beautiful displays of lights. I don’t remember the names of the neighborhoods in Port Arthur and Beaumont, but I remember that the lights were wonderful.

On the house in Groves where I grew up, we always had red large bulb lights along the roofline. It was a ranch style house, a single long roofline across the front, and my dad would put the lights in a perfect line along the gutter. The lights were stored in little paper boxes, seperate from the strings, so my job at Christmas was to screw in each bulb to the string so my dad could hang them up. That was a difficult job – because the sockets had high manufacturing tolerances and the bulbs would bind and stick as they were screwed in.

That’s one thing I do different – the bulbs stay in the strings here. Of course, I have never seen the bulbs in little paper boxes, when Rebecca and I started buying our own lights they were in plastic clips that were designed to come out once and never go back in. And next year, we will be leaving the world of C9 glass bulbs and moving to the LED with plastic lenses.

It seems that change is in everything, Kathryn’s last Christmas to be here “all the time”, my switching from the technology of my childhood to new types of lights, even two years ago when we bought an atrificial tree with the lights already attached. In fact, this year Alex convinced me to put multi-colored lights on the two pine trees in front of the house. I am not generally a multi-color person, but Alex thought that the wire-frame moose (lit in white lights) would stand out better against multi-color trees than against the white trees. He was right – it looks great.

Sometimes change can be good. However, I miss that the kids are now teenagers and are more interested in sleep than in chasing down the stairs for presents.

Merry Christmas all – may your traditions bring you joy on this day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

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