“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us...He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, NLT).
Christmas will be here before we realize it. This will be our third Christmas without Mama. Life has moved on since Mama passed. Daddy is happily remarried. Mama has a new great-grand baby, Addy. My oldest granddaughter is expecting a baby girl, Kinsley, in a few weeks. My other granddaughter has her learner's license, and the two younger “grand-boys” are right behind her. Life always marches on, but this morning I'd like to stop and dwell on the past....to think of those memories that seem to claim my mind much more often now as I get older. I can't help but remember what life was like with Mama at Christmas.
Life to Mama was all about loving and sharing, and Christmas was the time to “get that done”. Her family was her mission field, and so many others through life became her mission field, too. When I was a child, Christmas was an exciting time. My grandparents, Big Tom and Gigi, always came Christmas morning to share in the joy of the day. When I had young children, we often traveled to Mama and Daddy's house in Georgia for a time with all of our family—my brother and his wife and two children and my sister would be there, too. Sometimes other people would come just to be a part of our family—friends that were lonely and needed love. God always brought those who had needs into Mama's life. As the years passed, Christmas remained the greatest time to love family and friends.
Christmas was a time to share the Christmas story, and learn about the miracle of the Christ child who was born to save us. Christmas was a time of games and music. We learned not to play Trivial Pursuits with Pat. He knew all the answers. We played fictionary and other games that took a lot of imagination. Often two folding tables would be set up in the family room, and different games would be going on at the same time. Laughter filled the room. My brother played the guitar, and we sang. The Hampton's always sang. When the house was full, some of the younger ones slept on a bed in the garage. There was always a place to sleep, and a place to share, and be loved. There was always a place of acceptance, and a place where you were inspired to be more than you thought you could be. There was always room.
Through the years Mama saw our potential, and she not only reminded us of it, but continually pushed us to achieve it. She believed in who we could be when we had little belief in ourselves. Even up to the time of her death, she always inspired and reminded us of our potential. Daddy had always taken her to church every Sunday, but in early December of 2012, she was unable to go anymore. Two weeks later I knew she needed to come home from Autumn Cove for a special Christmas Eve. It was a wonderful time I will never forget. Mama prayed in her quivering voice. It was the last time she would come home.
I still miss her. I miss her laugh. I miss her look that said “you need to think that one through.” I miss the look that could see right through me. I miss watching Bonanza, Andy Griffith, and Matlock with her. I miss holding her hand, straightening her room, and hearing her say, “aren't you about ready to quit fussing so much?” I miss her loving concern for everyone in her life. A week before her death she was still asking staff at Autumn Cove about their families, and sharing her love with them.
Mama's greatest wish―her wish that last Christmas Eve she came home―was for us to love each other unconditionally, and for us to know her Savior. It was on her mind a lot before she passed. The greatest promise I have is that I will see her again. I pray each one who has lost a loved one will remember the good times and the good memories. Bring the memory of who they were into your home this Christmas. Love your family completely and unconditionally. Mama prayed that her family would all know God's unfailing love through the love of Jesus Christ. To each one of us a son is born...one who has come to bring life...to counsel us....to empower us, and to impart peace. Mama may be gone, but her legacy lives on forever in this last Christmas wish.