What a year 2020 has been! A few weeks before the new year, I gave birth to a sweet baby girl. Shortly after, Jake and I finally sold our house in Arizona, allowing us to purchase a much-needed new (to us) family vehicle and put a generous down payment on a lovely new (to us) home here in Oklahoma. Exactly one week after moving into our house, the world turned upside-down, creating quite the paradox in our lives.
As one of my favorite authors said in one of my favorite books, "it was the best of times; it was the worst of times." At no point in my life have I felt as isolated or as surrounded by love as I have this year. Never have I felt so much despair for the present or hope for the future as I have this year. Never have I felt as much crippling fear or pure joy as I have this year. Never have I felt farther from Heaven, or closer to the Savior as in the year 2020.
I've always thought it was appropriate that we close out the year and begin a new one with the Christmas season. As the youngest of six kids, I had a lot of people working very hard for many years to keep the magic of Christmas alive for me. Because of this, Santa Claus has always meant a lot to me. Instead of feeling as if I'd been lied to, I felt extremely loved by my family. What's more, I developed a greater understanding of Jesus Christ and the meaning of Christmas because of him. Santa taught me that it was possible for someone I couldn't really see to know and love me and want to give me good things. It has always been important to me that I try to pass those feelings to my children.
This year, our experience with Santa Claus was a bit different. I don't know what I was expecting during a pandemic, (I suppose I was a bit surprised they were doing it at all) but I was taken aback to find the department store Santa we took the kids to see sitting behind a sheet of glass. He was hesitant at first, but eventually his excitement overcame his fear, and Milo rushed to see him when our turn came. Pressing his little hands against the clear pane, Milo talked to Santa, but it was quickly evident that neither could hear what the other was saying. After a few moments of awkward non-communication, we took some photos and went on our way.
I've thought about that experience quite a bit over the last three weeks. These are strange times which create unusual circumstances. Unlike the department store Santa, our Savior doesn't sit behind a protective wall. The only barriers between us and Jesus Christ are the ones we put up ourselves. No plague, shutdown or rioting mob can keep Him away from us.
Tonight as my kids were sleeping and I was watching the little lights twinkle on my tree, I thought about how extremely blessed I am and how upsetting this year has been. I have "It's a Wonderful Life" playing and heard these lines at the beginning of the movie:
Clarence: "Splendid! Is he sick?"
Joseph: "No, worse. He's discouraged."