Each week in the month of November we will be featuring an article on cultivating gratitude and thankfulness. To see the full series, click HERE.
Just in case you hadn’t noticed . . . just in case I was the first one to point it out . . . just in case you’ve been thinking about your turkey instead of your nativity scene, . . .
Christmas is just around the corner.
When did that happen? Somewhere, somehow, Christmas is about to be a thing. You can see signs of Christmas everywhere. There are carolers caroling and wise men watching for stars and stockings hung by the fire, and in every mall and shopping center and retail outlet, there are shoppers buzzing about like bees. Buying. And buying. And buying.
Often it seems like Christmas is about what is under the tree rather than who was born in a manger. It can be a little overwhelming. All of the commercialism, blaring ads, clever jingles, and endless parades of dancing electronics can easily detract from our joy. How can we combat the materialism that takes over the holidays? How can we rearrange our hearts and priorities to reflect the reason for the season?
Just like those wise men from long ago—I found the answer in a star.
My father was a geologist. I was raised on rocks. Every trip, every car ride, and every journey to a new state, mountain range, or coastline was accompanied by a lesson. He’d pull over and hop out of the car, pointing and exclaiming with delight over the individual layers in an outcropping.
He would wax enthusiastically about the beauty in a layer of shale. He’d discuss in great detail the history found in a metamorphic, igneous, or sedimentary rock. Reluctantly, we would feign interest. With great protest and eye rolls and shared glances, my brothers and sisters and I would stop what we were doing and reluctantly listen to my father prose on about rocks.
It wasn’t that we weren’t appreciative of his valiant efforts to pass on knowledge. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to learn about the earth and all its history. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to listen over and over and over again to all of my father’s stories about a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. But let’s be honest.
When you’ve heard one rock story, you’ve heard them all.
My father charted each of his journeys. He painstakingly mapped layers of elevation, geologic explorations, and sedimentary rock patterns in great detail. He drew maps to scale—with lines, arrows, graphs, and charts documenting his research.
Years later, after my father passed away, our family found those maps tucked in the corner of the attic. There were boxes and boxes of carefully sketched pages waiting to inspire another generation. Just looking at the maps brought back memories of those long-ago road trips.
I could hear his voice.
I could see his enthusiasm.
I could feel his heart beating in every line.
After reminiscing over the maps, we packed them and returned them to their boxes. They were destined to stay beneath the rafters, gathering attic dust, next to boxes of old clothes and broken-down furniture.
Until my sister rescued them and honored my father’s legacy. She took one of the maps from the attic, and from a solitary page, she clipped and cut, shaping a Scandinavian star for each one of us. Each star was a piece of art. Each star was a beautiful creation. Each star was unique and creative and special all on its own.
But the gift didn’t stop there.
When you placed each of the single stars together and lined them up, something amazing happened. All the pieces of the map came together. You could see the journey leaping from one star to another. You could see the path our father traveled—a little piece of that long-ago road trip—to celebrate the Christmas season.
My star isn’t glitzy or glamorous or shiny. It’s handmade and a little crumpled around the edges; and it wilts every now and then. But every year when I take it out and place it atop the Christmas tree, I’m full of gratitude. All the materialism and busyness and stress of the season fade, and I’m thankful—thankful for the handmade stars, the road trips with lessons, and every single one of those shale outcroppings. Thankful for a father who shared his heart and his faith every day. And thankful that two thousand years ago a Savior who is Christ the King was born in a manger.
Joy to the world.
by KariAnne Wood, author of So Close to Amazing
This is a book celebrating the incredible, awesome, special individual within each of us. It’s also a book for anyone who has ever mismatched her shoes or trimmed her own bangs when a professional might have been a better choice or added too much soap to the washer and watched it overflow. (Not that KariAnne Wood has ever done any of these things.)
Fans of The Magnolia Story and The Pioneer Woman will love this debut memoir from the beloved Thistlewood Farms blogger. So Close to Amazing is a collection of hilarious and heartfelt reflections on getting it almost right―and how, instead of giving up, we can choose to simply embrace our real selves right where we are. It’s a story of transparency and honesty and recognizing that perfection is completely overemphasized and overrated. It’s about grace and learning from mistakes and rejoicing in every victory, no matter how small. Because when you find joy in the “you” God created you to be, you’ll discover the amazing that was there all along.
Contains beautiful DIY project ideas anyone can do, whether you’re Pinterest perfect or craft challenged—homemade signs, centerpieces, recipe walls, and more!