It’s New Year’s Eve. Tonight I will divide a piece of computer paper into 12 squares (6 on the front and 6 on the back) and give each square the name of a month. Then I will find my journal, take our calendar off the pantry door, and sit on the couch to review the year, noting in each square the significant people and events of 2018.
Every time I do this, I am amazed, seeing God’s generous goodness.
New Year’s Eve some years back, Daughter #3 was packing up to move to Spain, to study in the university there. (It was because of a young man who later became her husband.) We’d enjoyed her presence in our home for 20 years, and the looming goodbye conflicted me. I was moody that Christmas.
That afternoon, she and her sister went to get some groceries and came back carrying a 4’ potted palm tree. They put the palm next to the Christmas tree, ignoring my questions with suppressed smiles and “Mom, just wait.”
Now I love plants. I admire pretty pots and greenery and flowers in my friends’ homes but every plant that comes into my house eventually dies. (BTW, thank you, Walter, for adopting and thereby saving the life of my exquisite Japanese bonsai. That gift from Daughter #2 delighted me. I was sad to give it away, but I am grateful it is in a good home.) So I felt sorry for that palm tree.
That night, after we’d done our 12 squares review sheets and shared highlights of the year, the girls, with great amusement, told how this palm tree at the grocery store waved at them, beckoned to them, so they had to buy it – to cheer me up.
“It’s a Hi-Bye Tree,” they explained, laughing. “It is waving both Hi and Bye, to remind you that although every hello is followed by a goodbye, there will always be another hello coming – a constant waving in life. So you can’t be sad, Mom!”
Their slap-happiness was contagious and that skinny palm tree did cheer me up.
And helped me to accept – with joy – the ‘constant waving’ in my life. I welcomed that Hi-Bye tree.
Three months later, on Palm Sunday, I decided to use Hi-Bye’s ‘arms’ for my Sunday school lesson. We would have real palm branches to reenact the day King Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem.
It was a Sunday I remember well because our Hosanna-praise parade turned into bedlam and I had to confiscate the branches from those cute sword-fighting six-year-olds.
It makes me smile remembering. And wasn’t that the perfect ending for my special Hi-Bye tree?
She didn’t die a slow death. She fulfilled her purpose, representing my daughters’ creative love, and bringing me the message that God sees me and will always help me find joy in spite of the ‘constant waving’ of life.
And in the end I used her branches – signifying family love and joy and God’s nearness and help – to wave praise back to Him.
Tonight, like I said, I will do my 12 squares review. I will note the comings and goings, the peaks and valleys, the challenges and griefs . . . the ‘constant wavings’ around me last year.
And I bet I will — again — be amazed, seeing God’s generous goodness, remembering that He sees me and will always help me find joy . . . like He did that year of the Hi-Bye tree.