Make Room

I went for a walk around Cooperstown the other evening and was struck by how beautiful the village looks. Christmas in Cooperstown is a sight to behold.

I had been thinking about doing an Advent series based on ReThink Church’s photography challenge.photoadaywordsrtwebpage

I was too late to get the November days in, but I could start December 1st, not with a photo but with a post.

“To Cooperstown With Love” started because I love where I live.

What if, I thought, I tried to imagine Christ coming to Cooperstown. What would He see?

But you know how God works. As I tried to picture Christ walking the streets I walk, as I tried to picture Cooperstown “making room” for Christ, I had no inspiration for what to include in that post.

“What’s up with that, God?” I asked. I thought surely He would have liked my idea.

Look at your own house, He whispered.

Ouch. To make room here requires work.

My parents’ house, where I’m staying to care for my father, is full.

When they bought the house nearly 60 years ago, they put down roots.

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1967

With five children, a steady stream of dogs and cats, mice (domesticated and, unfortunately, not), guinea pigs, a fish tank, and maybe even a gerbil or hamster or two, the house was veritable hive of activity. Chickens in the chicken coop. Shetland ponies and horses in the pasture. A cow or two. Goats. Sheep. Pigs.

My childhood was idyllic. And rich. And full.

Both sets of grandparents moved to Cooperstown so my parents could see them through their golden years. Eventually a lot of their furniture made its way into my parents’ house.

When my brother and his wife needed to store furniture from her parents’ house, it came here. When they separated, nothing left, but more boxes came. When my brother died, more stuff crammed into “unused” rooms.

The family room — where we used to set up the Christmas tree and sit to open presents in front of a cheery fire in the fireplace — that room was packed with a clutter of boxes of books and clothing and artwork and papers and more papers. Stuff upon stuff upon stuff.

Make room, the Lord whispered — and I didn’t know where to begin.

I wanted to begin in town. He wanted me to begin in the family room. I looked at that room and got knots in my stomach.

Town would be so much easier. The work is done. All I have to do is imagine and appreciate.

Home is hard.

I have to look at the shirt my mother was wearing the last time we took her out and decide what to do with it. (I packed it in a box with other special mom-things and moved it upstairs.) I have to look through more of my brother’s papers and be reminded again of the deep hole of debt he was never able to escape. (I shredded them.) I have to decide what to do with mouse-nibbled play money from a Monopoly game (throw it away) and all the working parts to Mousetrap (store it in the attic). It is slow but necessary work. It hurts because so much of it holds memories — some good, some not.

But this is Advent, and I’m making room.

Making room for Christ to be present with my family as we gather in the front of the fireplace again and laugh and love.

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Family room — in front of the fireplace — 2009

Making room for new memories.

Remembering and cherishing those things that are truly important.

With great love, I will roll up my sleeves and reclaim this room to make room for Christ and Christmas.

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Christmas tree in the family room — 2009

 

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