Day 113

It has been 113 days since our oldest son left the country for a foreign mission field.
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It’s Christmas Eve.

Our house is a little more quiet than usual.  The front door is not swinging back and forth.  The sounds of guitar and banjo are absent.  The energy of our oldest is obviously not here.  But the beauty and definition of why we celebrate Christmas is more present than ever.  We have become so aware of the blessings God provides, everyday.  Our faith has become stronger, our walk a little straighter, and our confidence in our Heavenly Father’s promises is greater, as we have relied on His love to see us through the challenges of missing our son, our brother.  If someone would have told me a year ago of the enormous joy I would have this Christmastime, I wouldn’t have believed them.  It is only through the blessings of our Savior that I do have just that – enormous joy and peace and love.

This morning, I transcended from sleep to consciousness without knowing exactly when the waking point was.  I was so happy – tears, streaming down my face – as I thought of our oldest son celebrating the Savior’s birth in another country, with another family, with other traditions.  You see, he will be celebrating with a family he met earlier this year from Brazil.  Praise God for our family in Christ  that extends from the east tot he west!  He will be learning new customs, new traditions, new ways of celebrating this most special day.  Yet, though he is enveloped with so many new things this Christmas, he asked me something last night that “brought him home” in a special way.

“Mom, how do you cook country ham?”

Ahh!  He got a box I sent him!  Nestled among the size 14 shoes, the new hoodie and familiar old shirt, were two packs of country ham.  For his entire life, Christmas morning was greeted with the smell of country ham cooking in the kitchen, for biscuits with grape jelly, of course!  Every day of his first 18 years.  This year, though he’s not home with us, he is continuing the breakfast tradition.

“I want to share a little bit of my southern roots with this family by cooking them some country ham on Christmas morning.”

Joy.  JOY!  There it is, again, shining through.  My whole life growing up, my mother would cook country ham on Christmas morning.  My son’s whole life, he’s had my mom or myself cooking country ham on Christmas morning.  And now, he is continuing with this small tradition.  The joy comes in knowing that the things we are exposed to, the things we are taught, the things we share…they continue.  They go on.  As a parent, we hope that we are giving our children a foundation on which to build, on which to grow stronger, on which to shine brighter than we ever did.

My son doesn’t know it probably, but just in asking me that simple question – “Mom, how do you cook country ham?” – he has given me the best Christmas present ever.

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