The year it began escapes me, but it’ll be a tradition that I’ll honor as long as I’m able to. I hope when I’m in heaven one day with the one who started it, that someone in my family will carry it on.
It’s the JOY ornament …
the one that my daughter Sydney made at school when she was in 1st or 2nd grade. It has her picture inside the “O”, and it sparkles … not only because of the gold glitter that adorns it, but because of the memories and meaning behind it.
Every year since my girls were little, we played the same Christmas CD while decorating the tree. “Go Tell It On the Mountain”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?” were just a few of its many songs; but it was the anticipated “Joy to the World” that makes the tradition complete.
Once the lights were strung, we’d open the big box of ornaments and the kids would take turns hanging them one by one.
Except the JOY ornament.
Sydney would set that one aside each year and wait patiently for “Joy to the World” to play….and then she’d pick it up and find the perfect spot for it on the tree.
Until the year that she didn’t…
the 1st Christmas without her. That Christmas I didn’t think about it until I opened the box and saw it….
And then the lump in my throat….. she wasn’t there to hang it…….the tears just fell. Who would hang it? Who would anticipate the song and hang it in the perfect spot? I asked the kids who wanted to, and I think it was her little brother Samuel who first did.
Since then we’ve taken turns honoring her tradition. Some years it’s been done with tears…..and some with smiles. Some years, there’s been both at the same time.
But how can it be that pain and laughter coexist?
John 15 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It encapsulates living in such a way that we indeed have access to a JOY that abounds in the midst of laughter and tears . This JOY is not an emotion. It is not happiness that’s dependent on favorable circumstances. In verse 11, Jesus teaches,
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”
As the Christmas song describes, this JOY is available to all the world because the Lord has come. It is a JOY that we can have when we choose to receive our King. When we make room in our hearts for a relationship with Him, we experience the wonders of His love!
I saw this JOY in Sydney’s life, and she inspired me to embrace it in mine. Through all of her pain and suffering, she had a strength about her that was unusual considering what she endured. That strength was a fruit in her life because she chose such JOY. And this happened because she chose Jesus.
“The JOY of the Lord is my strength” Nehemiah 8:10 And it can be your strength too! I encourage you to read John 15. I’d love to hear from you once you do. Feel free to send me a private message. If you’re local, let’s do coffee and explore this more!