As I sit here looking at my lights and all my decorations, which took up so much time, I realize how close Christmas is. It really snuck up on me this year. Time seems to be flying by at a faster pace than I ever remember.

By Barbara High
Tribune Staff Writer
As I sit here looking at my lights and all my decorations, which took up so much time, I realize how close Christmas is. It really snuck up on me this year. Time seems to be flying by at a faster pace than I ever remember.
I can’t believe it is almost here.This is the first year I have ever gone this big decorating. My house looks like a Christmas village. I made all my decorations this year in an old-time country look. I spent a lot of time making the stuff and it looks beautiful. Yet as I realize how close Christmas is, there is one thing that really hits me hard… I have not enjoyed it at all. Seriously. Not one bit.
This year is different for me. You see, two of my three children have moved out this year.
Now I know that kids are supposed to grow up and move out, and I knew this day would eventually come. Yet it caught me off guard and I was not prepared. I wasn’t ready to let go. We tend to want to hold on to our kids.
To be honest, a lot of things are different in my life right now and I wasn’t prepared to let go of any of it.
I thought I was doing good. The house is cleaner, and more organized. I kept myself busy; I even started redoing the rooms. As the holidays approached I threw myself into making crafts and turning my home into the North Pole. (Much to Jasper’s astonishment.)
Yet in my hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, I never took a minute to enjoy it. The holiday’s almost come and gone and I never let myself enjoy the days leading up to it.
I sit here now and I think back on Christmases past and there are a few things that I have come to realize. I didn’t  have all the decorations that I have up today. I didn’t have all my gifts bought and even wrapped like I did so early this year. I didn’t have the early start on my baking as I do now.
You know what I did have?  Amazing Christmas memories with my kids and those I love. I may have been behind on all that other stuff, but it was because I was enjoying the holidays with my children and with Bobby.
We were going places and letting them enjoy the mall; catching a Christmas movie. We were taking funny Christmas pictures, and finding and cutting  down our own tree. We were decorating with all the ornaments that they had made over the years. (The ones I could barely bring myself to get out this year.) I was laughing and spending time with my family. It didn’t have to perfect; we just had to be together.
I now realize that I took this year and my children moving out harder than I realized. I was so busy making the holidays perfect in other ways, that I never stopped to do anything to actually enjoy them.
 I realized that I am not only missing the holidays, I am missing my kids and my whole family being home together for the holiday season. Isn’t that what Christmas is about - family?  Or is about so much more than that?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have ever lasting life.” He gave his son, his only son.
For God so loved the world… Can you imagine giving your child for the world? I know I sure couldn’t. I am having a hard time even being in different houses. I can’t imagine sending my child to die for all of mankind. But God so loved the world…
Imagine if you will that overnight the world began to die, a mysterious illness had taken over and was killing people. Children and adults alike were suffering and dying horrible deaths. Nobody knew what it was or how to stop it. What  they were sure of was that the antidote could be found in the blood of one person. They just had to find that person.
They asked everyone to come in and to be tested, and to bring your children in to be tested. They had to find the one person that could save all of mankind. So you go with your child, you stand In line with everyone else to be tested. They draw blood and send everyone out side to wait.
They come out an hour or so later holding a piece of paper. You can tell by the excitement that they had found the one; the one who could save everyone… the one who could save the world. You hear them call a name, and it echos through the crowd. Everyone is saying it over and over, crying out the name of the one who could save them all. But that can’t be right, cause it’s your son’s name they are all crying out. It’s your only son, your only child that they are calling on to save them. You raise your one hand while holding his little hand with the other. The crowd cries out, “Here he is!” They come and rush you both back inside. They are telling you that this is a miracle, that your son can and will save the world. That his blood shall save all of mankind.
They tell you how they will make an antidote from his blood and how it will cure all of those who are ill, and who are suffering. Yet all you can hear is that they need your son’s blood. “How much?” you ask. “What do you mean?” is their reply. “How much of my son ’s blood do you need?” You need to know… The answer comes quickly… “All of it. We need it all.”
Stunned, you cry out, “But he will die!”
“ But the world will live.” is their reply. “Without your son’s blood all of mankind will die. He is the only one who can save us. Here, won’t you sign for us to take all his blood?”
Can you imagine looking at your son and telling him that you have to sacrifice him to save the world. That you love him, but you so loved the world that you have to let them take his blood… all of it.  Can you imagine having to sit and watch them take every drop of blood from your only son, so that the world could be saved? You sit there and watch your son die; his life slips away and his blood is carried off.
The antidote is made and is distributed. People celebrate for a short time and then go about their lives like nothing happened, Nobody remembers your sacrifice or that of your child. The one day that was set aside to remember him and observe his sacrifice is quickly forgotten or overlooked. Nobody talks about your son, or the sacrifice you made for them. They choose to ignore you, and forget everything your son stood for and taught them.
As his mother you cry out… “Do you not remember the greatest gift that was ever given to you? How can you live your life and not remember who gave their life to save you?”
 Can you imagine how you would feel? Can you Imagine how God feels?
He is watching us go about our lives forgetting that he gave his only begotten son so we could have the promise of everlasting life. His heart must be breaking.
Instead of being eternally grateful we’re more worried about our decorations and gifts. We forgot the true meaning of Christmas. The reason for the season!
When I started this column, I was not sure where I was going with it. I knew how I was feeling and how I missed my kids being there daily with me. As I was thinking of my kids I began to remember a story I once read that put God’s sacrifice into perspective for me. I don’t remember who wrote it, but it was close to this.
He gave his only son, for us. For God so loved the world. I could not imagine giving any of my children. I think of my son Logan and I try to imagine allowing him to die so the world could be saved. There is no way. Can you Imagine how much you would have to love the world? Only to have the world turn it’s back on you and your son?
This holiday season is not over with yet, and I can tell you that I am changing my focus. I am going to hold my children close and remind them and myself that this season is about more than just presents, decorations, and baked goods. That there is no greater gift ever to be given than the gift that God gave to us -  his only begotten son.
For God so loved the world…Now that is a gift that can never be matched.
Just Saying…..