When Christmas Gets Detoured to New York City

Christmas! You say that word and so many different things come to mind for different people. Jesus, snow, carols, hot chocolate, gifts, church, Santa, fireplaces, lights, family… The list could go on and on and on.

For me, if you had of asked me three Christmases ago what would be the first word that came to mind if you said the word Christmas, it would be very different from what it is today. It would have probably been one of those words on the list above. However, the last two Christmases have brought adventures that have changed that list a bit for me.

Last December, right after my first born graduated from college, he received a job offer in New York City, his dream place to live! He got the offer letter on 12/22/15 and had to start work right after the first of the year. Ummm, ok! This mom put on the hat of travel agent/trip planner/mover and got busy!

For a family that had lived all their lives in a West Texas town, this became the Great Adventure of 2015!

In the next 24 hours my husband drove 9 1/2 hours to the town where we moved from a few months prior to meet up with our son. While they were loading all of his possessions into his little Nissan Cube (yeah, he obviously didn’t have too much), I was back in Houston making flight arrangements for myself and our two youngest kids ~ for Christmas Day. The plan was, the hubs and newly employed son would head out early the morning of Christmas Eve for the two day cross country drive (29 hours and 1,851 miles – but who’s counting, right?). We would all meet up in New York City late on Christmas Day.

The whole month of December 2015 was a bit of a blur. We had known that there was a possibility that our son would need help moving somewhere after his mid-month graduation, so we decided not to buy any gifts for our kids until we found out. The cost of a trip to move him somewhere would have to be our “gift” financially. As Christmas day crept closer, waiting to find out what our holiday would look like, I realized how hard it was to look at our Christmas tree with not a whole lot under it. Yet, at the same time…how special it was. The anticipation building of something coming. Something that we had no control over. Something that would change all of our lives forever, especially that of our first-born son.

I started feeling Advent in a way I never had before!

The arrangements were all made and my little family, for the first time ever, were not together on Christmas morning. And this is what I shared on Instagram last year:

11235826_10208202791338329_2647186822326405570_oThis Christmas is one we will always remember. No Christmas morning presents under the tree. No scavenger hunt planned. No kids ready to be up at 5am with great excitement. Instead, I am sitting here alone in my quiet house thanking the Lord for being with us every step of the way in 2015. This is now officially the “year of moves”. Ray Don and Austin just woke far from home in Nashville, TN and are on the road in the pouring rain to end the day 14 hours from now in NYC. Another move is happening that we found out about 3 days ago. Austin is moving to NYC. The kids and I will meet them there late this evening, and we will have a different kind of Christmas. A very thankful Christmas. A Christmas that is grateful simply for family and being together. For protection of travels. For job opportunities where your kid has always dreamed of living. For being stretched to grow in dependence on the Lord through more change. For being taught, once again, God is already there. For realizing this hard stuff is the most beautiful gift – we get to see first hand this is why that baby in the manger even came. He came for the healing of my (and everyone’s) hurting heart and soul, in more ways than one. And He came to spread great Joy through His presence! In that Joy, I say…Merry Christmas! Emmanuel, God is with us!

Little did I know when I wrote that, that the Lord would perfectly orchestrate our arrivals. My youngest two kids and myself arrived at the hotel close to 9:00 pm, completely in awe of the lights and majesty of NYC. My husband and oldest arrived about 30 minutes later, completely exhausted. But, we were together. We had a Christmas dinner in the hotel bar at 10:00 pm (the only thing open around us on

Christmas day night) that consisted of appetizer type foods, and while my family ate our “fine meal”, I excused myself and very quickly set up a tiny Christmas tree, a few small packages, and some lights strung across our hotel mirror. When we came back upstairs, the kids all walked into a dark room with just the glow of tiny lights from a tiny Christmas tree.

It was, and will always be, one of my favorite memories!

We opened these small gifts I had just bought the day before on Christmas Eve that could fit in a suitcase, rejoiced in simply being together, and all five of us fell asleep cramped together in a hotel room.

It was perfect.

Then this year…

The Great Adventure of 2016!

This same son got married this past weekend! He proposed to his precious girlfriend shortly after his move in January and after a year of long distance, they finally were able to say “I DO!” on Sunday, December 18th. As I type this, they are celebrating life and the goodness of the Lord on a beach in Costa Rica! And the rest of us are, well…resting.

This will be the first Christmas in 24 years I will not have my oldest son home for Christmas. And, this is hard. Yet, it isn’t. The Lord has been preparing my heart for a while for the anticipation and acceptance of things changing and new things to come.

And it is good and as it should be.

So, if you were to ask me now, “Kim, when someone says Christmas, what is the first thing you think of”, what would I say? I would immediately say, Emmanuel. The literal translation is “God with us.”

I have seen it first hand during these seasons of change in ways I never had before!

And, one of the best things these last two not-so-conventional Christmases have taught me? I have learned that the greatest adventures happen when you let go of expectations and let God come and work as He wills. Then hang on and choose to enjoy the ride!

This is Emmanuel! This is Christmas!

 

{Originally written for http://www.sacredholidays.com blog on 12-28-16}

2 Replies to “When Christmas Gets Detoured to New York City”

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