Looking through photos of some childhood pictures from Christmas time brings on a strange, numb kind of… no, it’s the current state of how I feel – that the faces looking back at me are more like acquaintances than my intimate immediate family. People who I should know so well remain elusive. For me, a deep sadness lurks in the shadows of Christmas.

November kicks off my holiday depression. Within me there is a dimmer that darkens my being as Halloween items in stores go on sale and are replaced with dorky turkeys and Santas. After years of therapy, my walks down memory road have made it apparent that a lot of crappy stuff went on during the holiday seasons, especially in my formative years.

In hindsight, God has always brought me through the fires. After my mom passed away in November 2022, that Christmas the Lord remembered a request that I asked of Him and He gave me a memorable sign of His remembrance and hope. This year I’ve been paying attention and would like to share about the continuation of that same message – remembrance and hope.

“He exclaimed, “Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the
fire unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

– Daniel 3:25 CSB –

“Look deeper,” a polite whisper in my head urged me on the other day as I held a picture of my dad with my older brother and me on the floor of my grandparents’ living room.
“Okay,” I thought while walking into better light to study the photo. “What’s in our hands? Oh, that’s just great! Dad has a lit cigarette between his fingers which are resting on the carpet, and he’s holding me up with his other hand because I’m learning to walk – while holding a pen in my hand. Tom has what looks to be a handkerchief. Oh good, maybe he was on the ready to smother the fire that Dad’s cigarette might have caused, or for whatever might have had happened with that pen in my hand!”

“Look in the background,” I was patiently prompted on.
“There’s the doorway to grandma’s kitchen… my highchair – geez, those things were clunky back then… a magazine rack… a chair…” Before I could move on, I heard…
“That’s not just any chair.”
His voice stopped me in my thoughts.
“No, that’s grandpa’s chair.”
“And what does it represent?”

Instinctively I knew where the Spirit was leading me in order to lift my holiday depression.

“… Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.
For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
– Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB –

“Were we grandkids taught, or it was innate in us?” I don’t know but grandpa’s chair was his place of honor. He didn’t lord it over us. I don’t ever remember a time when he would have gotten mad – although grandma could get him heated over a game of anything. Grandpa’s remedy was always to escape the vicinity with a drive to the park.
Of course as a kid I’d sneak sits in grandpa’s chair. Sneak-sitting turned into a game of sorts between grandma and me. Because the chair was tucked just around the wall of the entranceway to the dining room, from grandma’s favorite spot at the dining room table, if she wasn’t angled just right, she couldn’t see me. All I had to do was keep from entering her line of sight. But she would always catch me.
Just about the time I could get my little butt to wriggle into the chair, a crackly tease would come.
“Now, you know that’s grandpa’s chair,” or something to that affect.
That’s it! We grandkids were conditioned to understand the honor of the chair. In hindsight, for all the gripping grandma aimed at grandpa, she sure showed him respect with that darn chair.

There were times when I’d catch grandpa’s chair unguarded and sneak-sit in it for too long, only to get caught by grandpa. He was stealthy while walking around the house and didn’t stomp walk like grandma did. All that grandpa would do is gently touch me on the back to get my attention. Immediately humility would slide my little butt right off the chair.
Then grandpa would sit down and pat his knees for me to climb up into his lap.

“Start a youth out on his way;
even when he grows old he will not depart from it.”

– Proverbs 22:6 CSB –

With all this swimming in my head, I had to run some errands. Our persnickety garage door didn’t want to close so I parked in the driveway to fix it. As I walked, I pondered.

“All mankind shall be afraid. They shall declare the work of God,
 and shall wisely ponder what he has done.”

– Psalm 64:9 ESV –

On my return to the car, I heard a ruckus coming from the tree in our neighbor’s yard across the street, so I looked up to see wings fluttering as a bird struggled to get dates from the palm.
Then I stopped in my tracks and stared incredulously once I realized it was a woodpecker. The same symbol of remembrance and hope that the Lord had surprised me with last year at Christmas as a sign of His presence https://www.tracisilvaauthor.com/2023/01/27/god-remembered/.

“… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
– Matthew 28:20 ESV –