It’s all inside…just BELIEVE

All I know is that when I was a child, I didn’t really understand what all the hustle and bustle and celebration of a holiday called “Christmas ” was about. I knew that there was a vacation from school, my friends had “family” coming to town and they all returned with new clothes and smiles on their faces. I came back exhausted and confused.

As I got a bit older, I picked up on the fact that this was a pretty big deal and it had much meaning to it, too.

Now, I know….you’re probably thinking,”how sad”, “poor thing”, or if you are like many of my friends and “family”…you can’t even imagine. And that, my friends, is A ok.

It was all for a reason 🎄

My Grandma is my warmest memory of what Christmas means to me.

I remember waking up to the smells of her freshly baked sandbakkels, date filled cookies and other goodies. I remember coming down the stairs and nestling my face into her apron, as she wrapped her worn hands around my little head, for a hug only she knew how to give.

I carry that beautiful memory inside…still to this day❤

I didn’t know the meaning of this time of year, but I knew the feelings it invoked.

Generosity, happiness, safety and love.

I share a lot about growing up in an abusive, abandoned environment to offer strength. To others who have lived through similar circumstances and to those who are living it now.

I’ve learned as I age, it was all for a purpose….and I survived because of my faith, hope and perspective.

As I reflect this Holiday season, some mornings I just sit and stare…..at the lights on my Christmas tree.

I listen to the silence and remember a time gone by….today, it was 4th grade.

Just when I thought life couldn’t get any worse.

It was the winter of 4th grade and my parents seemed to have forgotten Christmas. I recall a cold winter night, the smell of beer streaming in the air, cigarette smoke haze… and of course, the ever present argument and fight my parents shared.

I calmly walked into my Grandmas bedroom, where she kept all her treasured things. And, grabbing a step stool, I started to carry out her precious decorations. I took the artificial tree out of storage and made a decision that night.

My current situation and someone else’s decisions would not affect mine. My parents were hurting and in doing so, they were hurting me. I was a child and deserved better. So, I decided to take back control of me.

What is Christmas without a tree?

So, at the age of 9, in the midst of insanity, I turned on my Grandmas favorites Christmas music 🎶 and decorated that tree!

While “The Little Drummer Boy” played, I moved another step closer to who I wanted to be.

And for a few moments, life felt normal.

I imagined how some of my friends “tree decorating moments” must have gone down. Maybe they had cookies and milk after. Maybe their parents sang or gave them special ornaments to hang. I remember promising myself that my children would never have to feel this way.

But, as sad and lonely as it may have seemed, God let it be a beautiful memory for me. You see, that night, I felt the Christmas spirit inside.

I didn’t need what others had, nor did I need presents or cookies.

I mean, it would have been nice…but it was all part of His plan.

My heart grew that night. Kind of like “The Grinch”, you could say. I realized at the age of 9, that everything I would ever need, I already had…inside.

Love, hope, faith.

Love for others and for myself.

Hope for a better tomorrow and New Year.

And most importantly, Faith in what would someday be.

And now, at the age of 43….I am sometimes in disbelief.

That all of the things I promised myself all of those sad and disappointing Christmases ago…..He gave to me…. a thousand times over.

My tree is always lit up. There is music, cookies, children, the warmth of my husband, and laughter surrounding that tree.

There are presents, friends, food, and happiness.

And every single year, without a doubt, “The Little Drummer Boy” seems to come on the radio. The old, scratchy version that I used to play. And I know, as I roll out the dough for the Christmas cookies only she used to bake…that in that moment, Grandma is there.

And I know, without a doubt, that all I endured were for these moments….today.

The appreciation I feel for everything I have. The gratitude for my beautiful children’s presence. The unconditional love from family and friends. And the Christmas spirit that I have inside of my heart.

We all have some experiences we wish we could forget. But I believe that every single moment… of every part of the day…has a purpose for us.

To grow.

To appreciate.

To learn how to love bigger and better.

To make the next generation even greater.

To make that Christmas tree shine brighter every single year.

This Christmas and always, I hope you can see. That the spirit isn’t in the gifts, the parties, the cookies, the tree. It isn’t about what we have or don’t have.

The spirit of Christmas is within you and me 💜

Happy Holidays. I wish you blessings that stretch beyond anything you could ever imagine. 🎄🎄🎄🎄

Happiness and peace are inside…you just have to BELIEVE 💜

Much love,

Linda 🦋

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