Three Merry Memories emerged as the top stories during the contest. They are the stories submitted by Dana Ethridge, Kristina Odom and Gina Simpson. Congratulations to these three writers! Send me your mailing addresses (email@example.com) and you will receive all three items from the holiday specials at The Colley House! Here they are:
Here’s the first winning entry. As you read this story by Dana Ethredge, just think how much better off we’d all be if we could make practical application of Matthew 6:33 throughout the holidays, de-emphasizing those things that are purely mercenary and/or unimportant and placing the priority on the things that make for true happiness. Merry Christmas, sisters! You make my life richer all year ‘round!
Here is my humbly submitted entry for the Christmas tales contest. I hope it’s not too long!
My family is composed of an abundance of spoilers. Because of this fact, I have tons of great childhood Christmas memories. However, my best Christmas thus far (and what will forever be my best Christmas) occurred as a very young adult and centered not on material gifts but on love.
December 25th, 2002 was the day I married the man I am sure was made for me. Why did we get married on Christmas? Well, we weren’t supposed to, but I’ll get to that. Six months earlier–Independence Day to be exact (we like to do things on holidays)–we became engaged. That is quite an awkward story for another time. Any who, we (mainly me) decided to be married in about a year. I started planning immediately. My then-fiance was not into wedding planning or a wedding at all. He just wanted to be married. In hindsight, I admit he’s much more sensible than me. So, conversations would often arise about foregoing the wedding and eloping. To be truthful I should call them minor arguments rather than conversations. But I was sold on the whole fairy tale wedding idea and wouldn’t hear it.
About six months into wedding planning, I began to be especially frustrated with it all and those emotions were showing. On the way to a family Christmas party (four days before Christmas), another conversation started up in the car about eloping. He saw my frustrations and didn’t understand why I would continue to put myself in a stressful situation. This conversation turned into a full-fledged fight complete with crying and explanations on my part about familial obligations and wanting my family to witness my marriage. At some point during that scene, I realized he was right. The wedding event wasn’t worth it. The realization hit me like a punch in the face. I understood all of sudden that I wanted to marry this man, and I was fighting about how to do it. It wasn’t right. I knew then I wanted to be married immediately and begin our life together. So, we decided that night, in that car on a compromise–a surprise Christmas wedding.
On Christmas day we were already hosting both of our families at his house. The people I really wanted to witness our marriage would all be gathered together in one place. We would just need someone to marry us. The next day we asked the preacher for our congregation if we could borrow him on Christmas for about an hour. He agreed. The next two days were a mad rush to get blood tests, marriage licenses, and something decent to wear for the occasion. I didn’t think we could pull it off, but we did. Everyone showed up anticipating present-swapping and eating and they got to witness a wedding as well. The shortened explanation of why we kept everything secret was to avoid more of that aforementioned stress.
After everyone left, it was time to go to Bible study (Christmas was on a Wednesday that year like it is this year). Therefore, the memory is sweetened by our first act together as a married couple being Bible study. Undoubtedly due to that dedication on both our parts to serve God (though we are so far from perfect in that service), we have truly lived happily (and pretty stress-free) ever after.
The important lesson I learned from all of that is to not worry about how things look or about pleasing others to the point of distressing myself and my spouse but rather to focus on actually making sure things are functioning properly in my relationship with my husband (and now my children).
Thanks so much for reading!