Greetings FRIENDS of HALLIE!
It's mid-December now, and my guess is y'all are knee-deep in shopping, list-making, and wrapping presents. All that is fun, but----
No. Let me be honest with you, especially since y'all are so generous with your time when you read my books. Here's the truth: I find it all a bit daunting. I even (mostly) shop online these days and I STILL find it overwhelming. How about you?
Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas. It's the shopping that wears me down. On the other hand, decorating the Christmas tree is always a soul-stirring experience for me. Why?
It's all about the bulbs. Seriously. Every year we add a few more, which are lovely, but it's the ones that are seasoned with memories that make me emotional. Here's one my daughter made for me in elementary school.
Isn't it fabulous? Sure, the glitter has thinned over the years, and it's starting to look a tad weathered, but when I hang that particular bulb on the tree it always transports me to a time long ago.
Christmases were different when my daughter was younger. The magic of the season felt more palpable when she bounced around the house, eager to "decorate" the tree, eager for the big day to arrive. Just eager.
Then there is the following one (pictured below) from that same time period. A time when we were surrounded by friends (the group, we called ourselves) and we celebrated and laughed almost every weekend. It was hard to imagine then that things would ever change. But they did, and they do, as this very special bulb was a Christmas present from one of my friends in the group's mother, who we lost to cancer a few years later.
Yes, time changes everything. Circumstances. Health. Everything.
As you can see, inside the bulb is a picture of my daughter, Bree, smiling along with the daughter of another of my cherished friends in the group. All our kids called each other cousins and called us aunts and uncles. Yes, Shady Gully fans, I'm sure that sounds very familiar to you.
Every Christmas, when I hang this beloved bulb, I am moved by the sheer joy in those young faces. Once I gather myself, I always text the mother of the smiling blonde girl in the red shirt. Within seconds, she texts me back. She gets it. Sure, it's just a text, but it's also a ritual, a way of connecting even when we can't be together physically.
Then there is this one.
I love the pear bulb and my husband hates the pear bulb, so naturally it goes on the tree. That's the price he pays for sitting on the hearth of the fireplace watching as I decorate the tree every year. Oh, he does help. He oh-so-helpfully directs me to the bare spots in the tree while sipping a cocktail.
Every year, almost on cue, we glide into our back-and-forth banter about the pear bulb. Again, it's a ritual that is part of our history. It's nice to have a history with someone, isn't it?
When my husband, daughter, and I moved from Louisiana to Santa Fe, New Mexico (a career move for him) we had to say goodbye to our family and friends, and to the group. The change was profound.
And yet, eight years later we'd managed to make new friends, friends we'll carry in our hearts forever. Friends whose memories we brought across the country to Kentucky in the form of this Christmas bulb.
Every year, when I put this bulb on the tree, I think of one of those Santa Fe friends in particular.
I was nowhere near being a published author then, but this friend believed in me. She encouraged me. "Keep on writing," she insisted, "one of these days it's going to happen."
Nostalgia washes over me every year as I decorate my tree. I'm flooded with a lifetime of memories that make me want to weep for the loved ones who are no longer with us, and smile through tears as I recall those weekends of fun and laughter and joy with the group.
Yes, things do change. Constantly. Always. Except for one.
Hebrews 13: 8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
How wonderful is that?
What stories do your Christmas bulbs tell? Please share!
MERRY CHRISTMAS to all my special FRIENDS of HALLIE. I truly hope it's a wonderful season for you and your loved ones.
Oh, and before I forget, if you're an eBook reader like I am (as one of the things that has certainly changed is my vision) the eBook of SHADES OF VIOLET is now available to preorder everywhere. Paperback and hardcover to follow soon.
Click on pic below for links to a variety of retailers.
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