The Christmas Tag

There I was, doing ok.  My Christmas to-do list was steadily shrinking.

The tree was decorated.

Stocking stuffed and hung.

Groceries purchased and recipes waiting.

The cookies weren’t baked yet but there was still time.

Time to get some wrapping done.

I made piles, made sure each girl had an equal number of gifts and all the nieces and nephews were accounted for.

Gifts were organized by each family gathering (we have 5).

Everything was in order.

I pulled out the Christmas tags, you know the kind that are self-stick.  Anything to make this time of year go just a bit smoother.  They were a bright cheery red with pictures of reindeer, snowmen and Christmas trees.  Peel, stick and apply…why isn’t there ever quite enough room to write out “Uncle Tommy & Aunt Tara”?  I don’t like the way my pen writes on the glossy sticker or how messy my penmanship looks but the sticker and wrapping paper are going to be in the trash in a matter of seconds, so I let it go.

I grab the next sheet of tags, it’s an already used one with only a few tags left…my eyes are drawn to on that is already filled.  “To: Brandon, From: Dad and Tara”.  My heart skips a beat and then all the air is sucked out of my lungs.  I just stare.  So many thoughts in my head.


The 1st was so me, even in the midst of zero air, I actually almost laughed…I know I never used it because it’s sloppy.  I don’t like sloppy.  I’m also certain that I rewrote it to say “To: Brandon, From: Dad and Mom#2” because that is what he called me and signed it “Tara” in the haste to “get things done” last Christmas.  Rushing causes mistakes, I don’t like mistakes either.

The 2nd thought was; I’ll never write a Christmas tag to Brandon again.  I’ll never get another bear-hug,  witness his twinkling smile or have my ears blessed by is joy-filled laughter ever again.  I’m tempted to dwell, to sit motionless and stare off into space and feel numb for a while.  And I do but I know I can’t stay there.

The family starts arriving home, I’m thankful to get distracted by our evening routine.

it’s 12:30 a.m. I’m lying in bed thinking about the tag.  What if I could buy my son one more Christmas gift, what would it be?  What if I had known last year would be our last time celebrating together, what would I have done differently?  My mind is racing, I really don’t want to go down this road…the “what if” road.  It’s so paralyzing and pointless, it’s a joy stealer.

Lord, just PLEASE help me go back to sleep please.

Then I am gently reminded, Brandon had already received the greatest gift of all.  The one true gift, the actual reason we celebrate this season.  The reason I had ever filled out that messy tag in the first place.  He had received Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  And in all honesty if I could give him one last gift, I know with certainty THAT would be what I’d want him to receive.  The gift that covers all our sloppiness, our mistakes and messes.  The gift that none of us deserves but was given to us freely.  Yes, that’s the gift.

Joy fills me.

In memory of Brandon 1/28/85 – 9/21/14

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The best smile ever! 🙂