Of Christmas & Cardinals
My house is over-decorated for Christmas... again. I know I went overboard, so at least there's an element of self-awareness in it.
As I look around my house, I see too many decorations. They are everywhere. Too many nativities in far too many places, too many Christmas photos crowd for space and an inordinate amount of light strands and tchotchkes.
My mom would have been proud to see it.
You see, Dale Bloder mastered the art of over-decorating. She always filled her house with Christmas decor, continually adding to her yearly collection. Some of the things she treasured defied imagination.
I used to roll my eyes a bit at it, good-naturedly, but now I understand why she did it. Every one of her decorations reminded her of something sweet, evoked a feeling of nostalgia, and was intended to bring joy.
When my boys were small, they would walk around her house marveling at all the decorations, picking them up, and asking her about them. I can still see how her eyes sparkled as she watched them.
When my mom passed away, our family gathered around her bedside in our house. We all looked outside and saw a beautiful cardinal perched on the bird feeder, watching us. It sat there for several minutes before finally flying away.
I read Tyree Day's poem about a loved one's passing some time ago, but this line captured my heart, so I wrote it down:
A chalk red cardinal
Will always mean I love you.
Cardinals are featured prominently in the Christmas decor for my house. There are cardinal ornaments, a decorative plate, and a life-sized cardinal on the fireplace mantle. We even have a "Cardinal Cafe" as part of our Christmas village.
All of these give me a sense of comfort---as if my mom is with us in all the ways we gather during the holidays.
Many of you are likely reading this today who have similar feelings about loved ones you miss, especially during Christmas. This time of year can be challenging when dealing with feelings of loss.
You should know that God is with us when we draw our first breath and is also with us when we draw our last. The wonder of God becoming one of us on that first Christmas reminds us of how we are loved and known by God.
Our loved ones are with us still, enveloped in the presence of God-With-Us, who permeates all of Creation with love and grace.
May this knowledge bring you peace. May this blessed season bring you to hope that whatever we perceive to be an end is also a beginning.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas to you and yours. May this day be filled with goodness, joy and hope.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.