Now that the Holiday festivities are over, it’s a good time for rest and reflection.

I love decorating for all of the holidays, but especially for Christmas. I have numerous plastic bins filled with my “Christmas stuff”.

Baby's First Christmas with Lauren BarkerAs I pull things out, each item has a poignant memory that reminds me of when, where, and why I bought or received it. In the early years of marriage, I bought quite a bit. As I had each child, their births prompted me to buy special ornaments and keepsakes. As the children grew up, they’d make decorative items in school or buy me small gifts. These are the things that are most dear to me. They make me pause & smile as I put them out. I always get a little tearful when I carefully unwrap and hold Lauren’s things – her many photo ornaments & the few little things that she made in her pre-school.

These past few years, I haven’t bought anything new. I’m grateful to have my fill of the things that I want. In fact, as empty nesters, new items are less important, while the personal pieces from my children’s past are most precious.

Then, each year, as I put it all away, it’s always a time of solemn reflection for me. I think about what the New Year will bring and what my life will be like when I am opening the bins in the forthcoming December. It’s a yearly tradition for me.

The January that I was pregnant & expecting Lauren, I was excited, thinking about the next Christmas when I’d have the joy of a new baby to share it with. Little did I know then what was in store for all of us that year…

Lauren’s 3rd Christmas was a joy. She was a happy toddler and James was a week old newborn. We knew though that her surgery was coming in Feb. and as I put away decorations that year, I was worried about this outcome. How well would Lauren come through it? Would she have more energy with her heart repaired? Of course, we know the sad outcome – she did not live to enjoy another Christmas with us.

The following year, James had just turned one and had begun to walk. As I packed up that year, still melancholy about Lauren, I wondered about how he’d grow and develop during his 2nd year and whether I’d be pregnant again. Of course, we know that I did get pregnant, but sadly, I was diagnosed with breast cancer that May at 5 ½ months along.

Baby's First ChristmasAnd so, that next year, as I packed up again, James was 2 and Bryan was a healthy 3 month old. I had just completed my 6 months of chemo and had lost all of my hair. I was optimistic for that New Year, to have a fresh start without chemo, and to be able to enjoy my children. Needless to say, I was also very scared about my future. As I put all of the things away, I was truly worried about what my life would be when I’d unpack. Would I be in remission? Would Bryan & I be healthy? Would I even be alive to go through these routines? Deep $#!^ , no doubt.

And now, as I packed up this week from Christmas, I again did my traditional reflection on what lies ahead in this New Year. I’ll be 57 this month. It’s a bit surreal for me to realize that, in just 10 years, I’ll be at my retirement age. I will be happy to work these next 10 years, if God will grant me good health.

Because 57 is a lucky number for me, I am optimistic that this will be the year that my book will finally be published. I envision unpacking this December 2014, and being extra happy knowing that my 2012 New Year’s Resolution – my dream of writing and publishing my book – will have finally come to fruition.

Each year I move forward,
eager to discover what destiny has in store for me next.

First Christmas OrnamentChildren's Ornaments Hand Made