By: Rachel Brown
Merry Christmas, faithful readers! From all of us at Wonderfully Made, thank you for your support this year. We are so grateful for your readership, your comments, and, ultimately, for the special online community you’ve created here in this space.
As we reflect upon 2016, we took time to consider what Christmas means to us. All of us here at Wonderfully Made practice gratitude for this time of year, this special season where we pause, more than ever, to think about Jesus’ birth, His life, and the ultimate sacrifice He made in order to give us redemption, the second chances we never deserve. I was honored to be asked to share some things that Christmas means to me personally. We would love to hear what Christmas means to you, too!
Christmas Means Remembrance
Of course, in the ultimate sense, Christmas means remembering Jesus’ arrival on earth. The Christmas story is a beautiful one, one that we celebrate year round but especially now. We are reminded of the humble beginnings of Christ, and we practice gratitude for the gift God gave us when He sent His son to dwell among us.
But in another sense, I find that Christmas is the perfect time to reflect upon and remember other facets of our lives, too, including all of the ups and downs that we’ve faced throughout the year. I love taking time to seek out silence during Christmas to journal, look through photos, and have conversations with loved ones about the things that brought us joy, the challenges we overcame, and the darkness that we’re still working to get through. At this time of year especially, I’m inspired to contemplate the goodness in my life, the things I want to do better, and the hopes I have for the New Year. I remember all that I’ve been given, and I aspire to do more.
Christmas Means Togetherness
At Christmastime I love making memories with the people I adore. I fill my schedule with weekend travel and dinner parties and coffee dates, all of which are experiences that bring me so much joy, but I ensure that I don’t cause my days to become too overwhelmed. I leave blank spaces in my calendar, allowing for impromptu snuggle sessions by the fireplace, afternoons spent baking cookies, long naps, and walks with my dog in the crisp wintery air. But for me the thread that connects all of this goodness is the people I get to savor the season with, the family members and friends who bring me so much joy all year round but especially at Christmastime. Spending quality time with the people I love (bonus points for engaging in fun holiday activities together!) fills me with so much Christmas cheer.
I won’t pretend to assume that Christmas is a happy time for everyone. Family dynamics can be difficult for many. Others are mourning the loss of loved ones, or they’re grieving over broken relationships or difficult seasons of life. Often times the holidays can highlight these losses and hurts, meaning that the giddy feeling of togetherness that I anticipate during Christmas isn’t a universal experience. I know I’m not immune to loss either, so while I’m so grateful for the gifts God has blessed me with through my relationships, I don’t take them for granted. I know that every day is a treasure, one that I practice gratitude for on an hourly basis.
Christmas Means Tradition
I love traditions. I revel in celebrating old traditions and instilling new ones. My husband and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl to the world in July, and the art of creating traditions has resounded with me even more deeply since her arrival. I want to build memories and experiences that transcend time, ones that transport our little family back to the special moments we shared together.
Christmas especially reminds me of the importance and beauty of traditions. I love the Christmas traditions from my childhood, many which paid homage to our Swedish heritage, like practicing Santa Lucia Day in early December and enjoying tasty Swedish pancakes for breakfast on Christmas morning. I can still remember my Dad loading my brother and me up in the car on Christmas Eve, equipped with hot chocolate and cozy blankets, to see the Christmas lights in our neighborhood. I love that we always eat pasta shells stuffed with spinach and ricotta on Christmas Eve, and I love that in recent years we’ve started a new tradition of receiving pajamas the night before Christmas. And now that our family is growing, there are so many beautiful traditions to share—and so many fun ones that are waiting to be created.
Photo Cred: Jennifer Pallian
Rachel is the Director of Development for Touch A Life, an organization committed to the rescue and rehabilitation of children who have been exploited and trafficked in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Though she loves working in the non-profit world, Rachel has always been passionate about writing, pursuing opportunities to put pen to paper outside of her day job. Aside from writing for Darling Magazine, she maintains a personal blog, Coffee & Tacos, where she connects with others through food, travel, faith & community. Rachel lives in Dallas, TX, with her husband, their adorably large English mastiff, and a new baby girl, Ruby.