I know it's a little late to be talking about Christmas, but I just felt so compelled to write this very moment. I started a new tradition with our little family last Christmas, in 2011. I can't remember where I thought of it, but it's a really sweet one and something I hope sticks around for awhile.
If you were to visit our home during this past Christmas season you would see all the great decorations that I have an absolute blast hanging up and displaying. It is probably my favorite holiday to decorate for. You would hear Christmas music playing throughout the house and you would probably smell a warm scent of cinnamon or peppermint as a candle burns on our kitchen counter.
You would also see our mantle and what's hanging from it. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the typical group of stockings dangling from their perch upon the mantle. And your eyes would glance from left to right and enjoy the various details on each one. There's Jacob's stocking with it's incredible needlepoint depiction of the three wise men, one his amazing Grandma made for him. Then you would see mine, also a needlepoint but from Lands End and not someone's Grandma. :) It has an angel on it that I think is declaring the glory of God. Then there's Piper's with a ballerina on it, Lily's with a red doll, and then Rainey's with an ice skater. And then your eyes would stop. Hang on a second, you've got an extra stocking up there. Let me count: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Six? Why are there six? Oh. There's a stocking for Molly hanging in the midst of the rest of our girls' stockings.
Sweet Molly. Her stocking has a beautiful angel on it dressed in white, with blonde hair. I bought it for her our first Christmas without her in 2008. And in 2011, I finally put something inside of it.
We had my husband's family in town for Christmas that year and since we spent the holidays in the mountains, we brought our stockings with us.
I have never really known what to put in her stocking or how to incorporate her during Christmas. I have some ornaments that are hers and sometimes I add another one that made me think of her. But quite honestly, that was all I had done to remember her during Christmas.
So in 2011, I bought a small notebook with sheets of colored paper in it and propped it up with a pen on the ledge above her stocking. And then I waited. And then someone asked, what's the notebook for? Yes! I get to tell them my great idea!
It's for Molly, I say. You can write her a note and stick it in her stocking. Draw her a picture or do whatever. No pressure, of course, just wanted to throw it out there for people if they wanted to.
Several days after all the family had gone home and we were back in our usual routine, I sat down at the kitchen table to read those six precious letters. Something I treasure more than any gift I could be given on Christmas day. I remember crying through each one, even the one Lily had down where she scrawled on it with a pen and then I wrote her name on it, the date, and a short note, I love you Molly.
And then today, January 17th, when I should have been making dinner, I finally sat down to read five more letters placed in her stocking less than a month ago. And I just cried. I did. I wept like we had just lost her. The pain was so fresh and the memories so clear. I glanced through photos of her precious face, already with Jesus, and I sobbed. Hunched over at my desk, I felt that familiar ache and the longing that I have to be in the presence of my Savior and my sweet Molly.
I realize that we may not always do this one tradition and one day we will probably forget. But for now, it's sweet and something I cherish as I think of our sweet girl and long for the day when I will go to be with her.
(Now I gotta go make dinner for my family!!)