During the joyous season of the holidays, we all find ourselves sitting in a seat at a table set before us.
Taking our seat where every place setting represents a life in the family, friendship or meaningful relationship around the table.
While Hallmark movies present a picture perfect table for the holidays; in reality, the table of gathering is uniquely set from every heart of the home.
The simplicity of our father’s Christmas table served homemade cookies and cakes prepared from the hands of a widower of many years.
Missing my father and his modest traditions so terribly, I continue to drive by his house every December 24th in the evening, opening the greeting card of Christmas past from across the street, reminiscing through the kitchen window and listening for laughter still baked in the walls when we daughters shared a few hours with dad around his table.
In mother’s later years of life in the nursing home, we girls would join her and the other residents and their guests for a Christmas meal together.
The love of the host overflowed onto her decorated tables for those she served everyday throughout the years, regardless that many of the residents had lost their capacity to appreciate the thoughtfulness in her details.
But God sees the unnoticed and receives it all as if you had done it unto Him.
Somebody loved our mother as we sat with her around the table those remaining December’s of her life; a gift we will treasure for Christmas’ to come.
Some tables set in December have a few tears of sadness sprinkled with the faux snow spread around the winter centerpiece scene, when those seated next to them are thousands of miles away in thought with those they’re unable to be together with during the holidays.
One Christmas, our son ate his holiday meal on the other side of the world from us, actually a day in advance from us while serving his country in the military; although the miles were bridged when a homemade gift from our officer’s hands arrived in the mail the day after Christmas.
A mother’s heart was full during a long and lonely year she hadn’t hugged her son for months.
How do you set a table of Christmas for a mother you’re unable to reach when the doors aren’t opening to visitors?
Where do you find the magic of Christmas when mother’s seat at the table is void of her being; well, at least at her earthly table? Mother found her reserved place at heaven’s banquet table the moment she opened her eyes to Jesus.
Mother’s presence remains in the traditions she created for her children and grandchildren, and in her seat at the card table I now sit at when she left us for a better place.
My husband and I are like little children waiting to wake up on Christmas morning together, believing God to redeem the season from one year ago when David ate his holiday meal from the tray of his hospital bed, while separated from me as I sat alone at my table that December evening because of sickness too.
Regardless of every table set before us…
Christmas will always be about a baby born in a manger, and the joy that filled the earth when our Savior cried for the very first time in His mother’s arms.
God is faithful to us during the holidays, and every day.
God is near to the brokenhearted whose covenant love will reach a thousand generations.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18 NIV
For Christmas this year, I’m setting tables.
While I love the sparkle and twinkle of a beautifully set table, I won’t miss the unexpected opportunities to set a table of simplicity as my father once did for us daughters each Christmas Eve, serving cookies and love on a plate for those seated around his table.