The Gift

Christmas is by far my Mom’s favorite holiday. She goes all out. When I say all out, I mean ALL out. While growing up, there was barely a surface of our home that wasn’t decorated to the hilt.

Of course we had the tree and the obligatory lights outside, but it didn’t stop there. No. We had the wreaths, the garland and the mantle decorated to perfection. We had the full moving and lit up Christmas village. Artwork was taken down from the walls and replaced with pictures of Santa. Speaking of Santa, there were several large Santa dolls that were placed around our home. Nearly every room had a small tree, even one of our bathrooms. Yes, there was a tree in the bathroom, folks. 

One of my Mom’s favorite parts of Christmas was the putting up of the big tree. The most celebrated of all the trees. Every year she had exceedingly high hopes for this event. She hoped to turn on the fire, have Christmas music playing in the background and we would lovingly pull each ornament out of the box and talk about the wonderful story behind every one.

At least that was her plan.

The problem was, her plan didn’t exactly ever pan out. My siblings and I would get tired of the Christmas music about 2 songs in. We would gripe about having to be there, then turn around and have an all-out brawl about who would get to put the star on top of the tree. Many years it would end in tears with one of us stomping off to our room in anger. Other years it would end with pleas of “Mooooooom, can’t we just go watch TV instead?”

Every year she had high hopes and dreams for her imagined, magical family moment to come true, yet it rarely did.

We have all done it, spent our years daydreaming about Christmas’ to come with our families basking in the magic of the holiday season. We make our plans of how it will be, what it will look like.

But then real life happens and in an instant all of those “plans” can fly out the window. 

I would have never imagined one day my reality would be spending the holidays as a widow and a single mother. Yet that is where I am. No amount of wishing or hoping will change that fact, no matter how much my heart breaks, that it is so.

In life, it is so easy to be disappointed when things are not turning out the way you’d hoped. It is easy to let that be the focus.

When you concentrate so hard on the things that you don’t have it’s easy to forget the things you do.

Life may not have turned out how we’d planned it, how we hoped it, how we dreamed it but life is still a gift. No matter how much it kicks us when we are down, hands us pain or seeks to rob us of joy. Life is still a gift.

In our home we were so worried about creating an ambiance and the magic of the moment that we missed the true moment-what remained and sharing it together.

May we never forget the most important gift of this season, a Savior; a life, a hope that what’s to come is greater than what we will leave behind. That is the gift that can never be stolen.

For hope springs eternal, may we live it, walk in it and carry it like a banner over every fear, every pain and every disappointment. While we will never forget the loss we may have experienced, let us remember with thankfulness what remains, what is true, and what is most important. 

Life, and the gift it truly is. 

About Sarah Rodriguez  

Sarah is an author, speaker and a lover of life. She longs to inspire others to live life as an overcomer, no matter the situation you may face. Sarah loves music, art and finding beauty in unexpected places. She lives her life to the fullest by trying new things or even jumping out of planes. She resides in Oklahoma where the greatest sunsets on earth are found. Sarah’s greatest role in life is Mommy to Milo Andrew and Ellis Claire. She was blessed beyond measure to be married to the most amazing man, her late husband Joel, for 8 incredible years.