The older I get, the more I'm convinced mountain top moments often go unnoticed until opportunity/maturity to look back presents itself. Unless we are talking the epic experiences of marriage, childbirth, rite of passage such as graduation, etc. many magical tick-tocks of the clock don't get covered in fairy dust until, with longing, we mentally travel back in time and think or say, "Those were the days. Those were the good times. Those were the moments I wouldn't trade for (fill in the blank)."
Whether it be breakfast or dinner time around the table, family game nights, reading those little notes your mom left for you in your lunchbox, or rides to school with your dad, little did we realize, we were standing on the peak of good and wonderful and magnificent, and dog-gone-it, the busyness of the season or just not getting it managed to blind us from enjoying the view.
I think back on traditions—the many traditions where the adults in my childhood labored to provide year after year after year of joy.
One in particular stands out amongst the rest.
Dobbie's Christmas Stockings.
Every single Christmas morning from the beginning of memory until early adulthood has the following scene firmly fixed at the center. Groggy eyed, but filled with expectation, we (the Bradford/Hunter clan) would wake up to the smells of coffee, sizzling fatback, and fresh-baked sticky buns. As each person stumbled in from various parts of the Bradford compound, one site was ever-present and sought after.
The breakfast table.
Elaborately set with all the familiar holiday wares, each chair held what we all knew would be there—the overstuffed stocking with the fuzzy white top donning our name spelled in silver glitter. The contents of this magical sock varied from year to year. But—my grandmother (Dobbie) made sure by the end of taking out every, single, solitary item (still not sure how she managed to put 1,085 items in a standard-sized dollar-store stocking) the individual felt special, unique, loved, and cherished.
And, allow me to add, as we got older, there was always one item that was a teeny bit questionable. I swear she stumbled into Spencer's, not knowing where she was. (Evidence: Pens where Santa Claus was a little too exuberant when one clicked the button) Love you, Dob.
Anywho . . .
The old house, busting at the seams with cousins, parents, aunts/uncles, siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents was the setting for chaos, laughter, tears, fights, and in retrospect, priceless gifts that had nothing to do with the contents of a package or a stocking.
It was the act of being together, taking part in something we knew was just—us. And, you know what? As the family extended or members brought friends, Dobbie widened that table or added another seat and no one—no matter how short of notice—went without a stocking.
I don't know how she did it, truly.
But on that one day of the year, regardless of where we were in life, Dobbie orchestrated a series of memories never to be forgotten.
Mountain tops in the midst of the mundane.
Mountain tops in the midst of the celebratory.
Mountain tops in the midst of the valley.
Cherish where you are right now. The next moment is not guaranteed. You may be standing on top of the mountain and be too distracted to notice. Stop. Breathe in the fresh air, look on those you love, listen to their laughter, spread your arms wide open, and enjoy the moment.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.