By Mary Zatkalik
Memories burst forth like rays of bright colors when I think of Christmas Eve traditions in our family. To this day, I don’t know how the kids got me to go along with some of their themed parties. I remember the year we researched Germany and weaved their customs into ours. On and on it went every year. Whether we embraced the military and dressed in camouflage eating MRE’s or cooking up Creole recipes and wearing overhauls for a Cajun theme, the kids planned fun family Christmas Eve’s and it’s hard to choose a favorite. However, there is one Eve memory that stands out.
It was five years ago when our daughter’s husband walked out. Suddenly our girl became a single mom with a grim future, and her pain gripped into our hearts like a knife. But even so she would not agree to my plea to cancel Christmas saying: “I even came up with the theme this year, Mom! Let’s call it our Miracle Christmas.” The holiday fast approached and friends asked if we had a party theme. We answered: “A Miracle Christmas,” and described the beautiful gold box we placed under the tree. The emphasis turned from collecting presents to collecting prayer requests from friends, family and co-workers. We filled that pretty gold box with not only prayer requests, but requests that needed a miracle. One of the kids quoted Job 5:9 over that box: “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”
Christmas Eve finally arrived and we all attended the Candlelight Service at church and then enjoyed a simple dinner. My husband read the Christmas Story and we reflected on the birth, the death on the cross and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The gold box under the tree was filled with over fifty requests from miracle seekers! Some needed healing of cancer or other diseases. Some were desperate for a financial windfall. Some begged us to pray that their prodigal would come home for Christmas. We held the pain of many in our hands as we read each one out loud and prayed. Tears rolled down our cheeks as we sought the One who can save us in this hopelessness, Jesus, our only hope. One of the kids mentioned “where two or more are gathered, Jesus is in our midst.” Oh, we knew it that night. We felt Him and our faith soared. It felt like our living room was full of people. That night was like no other Christmas celebration in the past. There were no torn gift boxes and ripped fancy wrapping. There were no presents that satisfy temporarily or tummies too full of rich foods. Instead our family tapped into the gift of intercession giving out eternal blessings even though we felt raw and broken. We needed a miracle too!
Looking back five years ago, I’m glad we didn’t cancel Christmas. The joy of the season filled our home like the scent of Scotch Pine. It amazes me how Jesus can turn a disappointment into a reappointment. Oh, we exchanged gifts alright, but of a different kind. We gave Him our broken hearts and He gave us His peace.
Mary Zatkalik. A wife, a mom of two daughters, a grandmother of two girls, retired and enjoys country living. My family and friends are important to me, but Jesus is my lifeline. You can find Mary at her blog: Piles of Smiles or on Twitter.