Our best Christmas present in 1978 was our daughter, Bethany. She was only 7 pounds, 11 ounces, but our sweet newborn filled our home that year with immeasurable joy.
There was little else to celebrate that winter. Times were tough in the Cooper household and our personal economy had sunk deeper than the snowdrifts outside our door. Because of scarce resources, we had little in the way of gifts. But where the coins were limited, the creativity was limitless as our little tree took on festive yet simple decorations.
My mom visited and crocheted an ornament with the date spelled out in yarn. My husband, Steve, spent hours crafting a wooden truck for our two-year-old son. My creative spouse spent more hours designing a wooden ornament that I still treasure to this day. It was a memorable year in so many ways, with treasures abounding that money could not buy.
As I look back on that Christmas 36 years ago, I don’t regret the paucity of money nor the struggles we endured that taught us to be more compassionate Christians. What I do regret is that our sweet Bethany is no longer with us.
Her life was a testimony of living life well, even when the years are few. In her twenty-four years, her life seemed to impact so many others who still can recall her smile, her laugh, her intelligence, and her compassion. Mostly, her legacy is one of faith fulfilled in living a Christian life that made a positive difference in the lives of others.
It was a life of joy despite circumstances that seemed to whisk her away to heaven far sooner than any of us wanted. The joy in remembering Bethany reminds me that joy is not about the ever-changing circumstances that make us happy or sad. It is the realization that there is a promise for life eternal with God’s Son, whose birth we celebrate each Christmas.
That is truly the Joy of the season.
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2 NIV