Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas & Confusion Part 1

I just love Christmas. Maybe too much.
No, that's not possible...
But in all seriousness, the past two days have been a crazy, wonderful, emotional rollercoaster ride.
Christmas Eve:
The usual last-minute shopping, because I like to live on the edge and barely make my deadlines :)
It just wouldn't feel right if it was any different.
Then the Christmas Eve service at church.
This is always one of the most special times of the whole year. It only lasts 45 minutes, but I feel like I live for those 45 minutes all year long. If I could go to a Christmas Eve service every night I would (or at least 4 times a year, come on!). 
Last night, as I sat there in my comfort zone, in the dimly lit sanctuary of my cozy Baptist church, beside my sister, with my family on the pew also, a lot went through my mind.
I thought about going to my aunt's later that evening, and then mass at IHM much later. I wondered what mass would be like because I'd never been before.
I thought about Christmas Eves past. I thought about candlelight services when I was younger at Green Street Baptist. And how I was so excited at those because I knew Santa was coming later that evening. I would wonder, "Will he bring my Barbie Jeep?!" and things like that.
I remembered being a little girl in huge red and green taffeta dresses with a bow in my hair, just looking around the green sanctuary and taking in all the lights and decorations and thinking, "I wish it was like this all year long."
I also thought about the one time I took my baby doll to the candlelight service and almost caught her hair on fire.
Man, I miss those times.
Sometimes I hate that I'm so sentimental. I wish I could be more carefree like some people. But God made me sentimental for a reason, I believe. So let me embrace it, I guess? Haha
I also thought about two years ago at the candlelight service at Oak View. I thought about the look on Ashley's face after all the candles were lit and we sang "Go Light Your World." I thought about her eyes twinkling and how it brought tears to my eyes right there in the church. And how I burst into tears telling my mom about it when we got home (she couldn't make it that year).
I looked at Ashley and thought about how she isn't so little anymore and it made my heart a little sad.
But then I felt foolish for that, because she's everything I ever wanted, and she has to grow up sometime. And she's grown to be a best friend to me, not JUST a little sister. I thought about how close we've gotten in the past year.
I looked around at all the cute little girls and boys and thought about one day (wayyy on down the road, haha) bringing my own kids to candlelight services and watching their eyes twinkle just like Ashley's did (and still do), and tucking them into bed for Santa to come, just like Mama did with us.
Finally, overwhelmed by my racing thoughts and memories, I just looked around the gorgeous red sanctuary and took it all in.
I took in my surroundings. I was "happy in the now."
I thought, "I'm going to enjoy this for all it's worth because in 30 minutes, this will just be a memory. We will all have gone our separate ways to celebrate, and I'll have to wait another 365 days for this moment. So right now I will sit here and soak it all up. Soak up every ounce of Christmas Eve goodness in this room and be thankful for it."
But there was so much of it that it overwhelmed me. And in that moment, I felt like I was 7 years old, and 24 years old, and 75 years old. I can't even explain it.

As we lit our candles and sang "Go Light Your World," I fought tears. I just had this wonderful feeling bubbling up inside of me, trying to burst and make a fool out of me, haha.
I bit my lip to hold the tears, held my candle up, and became eternally grateful for that moment and every other one like it before and all the ones like it that will come. I did my best to enjoy that brief moment as much as I possibly, humanly could. I looked at my family. I looked around at all the raised candles. I hoped someone would take a picture (someone did). I wanted that moment captured forever. I love that feeling.
After Ashley and I left church to head to Wal-Mart (quite the change of scenery), I thought as I drove. I was so overwhelmed that I tweeted, "I JUST LOVE CHRISTMAS WITH ALL MY HEART" because that was the best way to convey my thoughts and express myself at the moment.
I was excited and sad and crazy and overwhelmed and indescribably happy all at the same time. That happens a lot for some reason. It scares me.
In Wal-Mart, I looked at the workers and my heart went out to them for working so late on Christmas Eve. I looked at the picked-over Christmas cards with their sweet sentiments and felt sad because the season was almost over. I saw Valentine cards and felt like time is flying faster than I want it to. I looked at my sister and remembered that life is wonderful.
In my room when we got home, I looked at my candles in the window and my little tree and thought about the Christmas Eves that I spent hours working on homemade gifts in my room, listening to 99.5 and enjoying candle lights and Christmas lights.
I thought about the Christmas Eves that my family went to the Moravian church at Old Salem.
And the Christmas Eve that my dad took me and my brother to Bojangles (don't ask haha).
At my aunt's, I sat and ate with my parents and the Grannys but felt distant as I thought about Grandma for a minute. But the Christmas music on 99.5 helped me snap back and I had a sudden feeling of wanting to be in so many places at once for some reason (another feeling I get a lot).
I enjoyed family time and laughter.
At mass with my sister, Zach, Ashley, and Chanelle, I thought about stepping out of my comfort zone (which is what we were doing). I thought about the beautiful music and the cool experience we were having.
As Zach and I exchanged gifts that night, I thought about how thoughtful he is and how much it meant to me to have him for a third Christmas.
I thought about our past two Christmases together and all the fun we've had and just cherished those memories for a few minutes. And I soaked it all in, and lived "in the now."
I wrapped gifts for family and hoped they were thoughtful and perfect.
And as I finally settled down and went to bed, I thought about my 7 year old self going to bed SO excited that Santa was coming and feeling uncontainable joy at the thought of all the toys that I'd open in the morning.
I thought about the story of the birth of Jesus as I drifted off to sleep.
And that was Christmas Eve.
(Am I complicated or what??)
"Take your candle, go light your world"
(Had to steal this awesome picture)

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