Guest Post by Teryn O’Brien - I am thrilled to introduce you to a woman that has become a very good friend, even though we’ve never met in person. I connected with Teryn on Twitter and through a mutual friend in the online Christian community. She helped me through a personal loss of a friend despite her own grief. I hope that you find her writing as inspiring as I do. God bless you, Teryn. Thank you for sharing this story!
“What is your favorite Christmas memory?” It’s a question that seems to surface during the holidays quite often. When people ask me this question, I smile to myself as my mind drifts back to the Christmases I’ve experienced over the last 25 years of my life. There are so many memories.
There are the joyful memories.
Memories of eagerly anticipating Christmas morning. Memories of my siblings and trying desperately to fall asleep, our dreams swirling with the thoughts of presents under the Christmas tree.
Memories of family gatherings with relatives. Of driving to Wyoming and staying in my grandparents’ wondrous home (it seemed so big when I was small), of playing cards with my cousins, of unwrapping presents under the gigantic tree.
Memories of candlelight services and haunting melodies, singing about that night long ago in which the Prince of Peace quietly came to dwell among us. O come, o come Emmanuel…
There are also the painful ones.
Memories of dark holidays, when my heart was full of sorrow and I didn’t know if I’d be able to ever smile again or enjoy the holidays. Memories of loss and heartache and pain.
Last year, I went through my first Christmas after a loved one had died (read more here), and it was a hard holiday season.
There are so many memories tied to Christmas. Good ones, bad ones. Joyful and painful.
Yet one thing stands out to me most of all.
When I was a child, I thought more about what was under the tree than anything else. It was about gifts, gifts, gifts and what I could get, get, get.
But now, looking back, I cannot remember any of the toys or clothing items I received over the years. Or if I do, I know they are long gone, and they are hardly missed. The excitement and anticipation of receiving these items pales in comparison to the friends, relatives, songs, and traditions that make the holiday season special.
The deepest memories carved on one’s heart are not the gifts… but the people.
Because, in the end, nothing matters but the ones you love.
Today, Christmas has been overtaken by materialism. By stuff. By want, want, want. By TV commercials and ads and shopping malls. But in the end, all that fades away.
When you lose someone, as I did last year, you realize just how little those material things matter in the great scheme of things.
So this year, I want to focus on the memories that will last. I want to focus on people.
Family, friends, and those in need. I am determined to do that this year, and all the years moving forward.
Make your Christmas about people. Because items from the mall can be easily replaced, but people — people can never be replaced. This is, after all, what Christ came to tell us when He was born in a manger centuries ago. That people matter.
They are so important, in fact, that the God of the Universe came down to walk among us, to live, and to die.
All for people.
Teryn O’Brien works in marketing with various religious imprints of Penguin Random House. She spends her free time roaming the mountains of Colorado, writing a series of novels, and combating sex trafficking. She’s of Irish descent, which is probably where she gets her warrior spirit of fighting for the broken, the hurting, the underdog. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect with her on Facebook.
*Main image courtesy of HubSpot.com.