As I sat down to mail my Christmas cards this year, I debated about writing a Christmas letter. I went straight to my file and pulled out years and years of letters from 1998 forward. I joked with Jay that our house might seem unorganized, but I know where everything is located! Just like my desk at work.
I did not get around to writing the letter like I had hoped for many reasons. This week in the mail Jay and I received the sweetest letter from Jamie (James) and Kelly Lott. It took me down memory lane of when Jay and I were their age, just beginning a family, and just beginning our Christmas letters. Even though their letter was filled with such joy and promise of a bright future, I could not help but let the tears slowing roll down my face as I recalled the last Christmas letter I wrote which was in 2011, Trey’s last Christmas.
I discussed it with Jay and we both realized that by 2011, Facebook had become so popular that there would had been no reason to write letters. I think he was trying to make me feel better that I did not continue a time-honored tradition. I think of all the memories between 2011 to date that I have not recorded in letters. I have never been one to journal, like my sister. I have made up my mind to go year by year and try to make up for what I have lost.
“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” John Banville
Memories are important. I think our memory serves as a very important anchor. They are a way to measure our life thus far – that we are able to call personal experiences our very own, simply because we can remember them and they feel real in recollection. I am so grateful our God protects us from things that He does not want us to remember. I am sure you have had experiences that you would rather not remember. I think back to Trey’s celebration and AGAIN I am so thankful that God has taken away all the sad memories from that day and left me with memories of the rainbow at the end of the day and Jay dancing in the rain with our girls. (You’ll always be our girls.)
Gratitude – “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
One thing I remember about my letters is how I categorized them, much like we categorize our memories in our mind; i.e. family, vacations, jobs, children, and future. I would always talk about what God was teaching our children and what they were experiencing; I would give thanks for our year and time with our family; and, resolve to walk the following year closer to Christ. As I look back, I am so grateful that Jay and I had the mindset to focus our family around Christ-centered activities. Yes, we hustled and bustled, just like the young families do today. I do not think Collin remembers that I did at one time cook dinner!
“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” Robert Braathe
In 2012, we recorded Trey’s testimony video which is attached to this page on the “About The Erwin Family.” I mentioned in the video about Trey wanting to be a preacher. I am so grateful I have this in print in my 2005 Christmas letter. This is exactly why these letters are important. I knew he had said it. I wish Trey were alive so I could prove to him that when he was 9 years old he told me he wanted to be a preacher. Lord, hold him tight.
“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1
In reading the letters, it brought back so many memories of friendships formed, basketball and football games, yelling from the stands with parents (or at parents, friendly, of course), church trips, family vacations, school friends, and the many, many school functions and meetings. I remember an incident with both Trey and Collin at Collierville Middle School with the same teacher. They both stood up for themselves and did not succumb to bullying and I am grateful for the character of my children. Believe it or not, between the lines, that was in one of the letters.
Yes, I’m taking into 2019 a grateful heart for what God has bestowed upon me and my family. Memories to hold tight, lessons to live by, and a positive ripple effect to take into the future created by so many people. So, thank you Jamie and Kelly. Thank you for stirring in me a desire to revisit Christmas letters, relationships, and the importance of cataloging memories and a grateful heart.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:18