Yesterday I went to church and I sat and looked at all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. I watched as the children lit the Advent candles in the homemade wreath and listened to the scripture and sermon as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’s birth.
I thought of all of the plans and all of the upcoming festivities. I reflected on how much more fun the holidays seem to be now that Owen and August are getting a little older and are starting to understand who we are celebrating. We’re blessed that we have family close by and that we’ll be able to celebrate with many of them throughout this holiday season.
But, as I reflected on this upcoming holiday season with excitement, it got me thinking about the times that it has not always been a merry experience. When I was 17 I unexpectedly lost my Grandpa (two days before Christmas). This was not only the first loved one that I have ever lost, but one of my closest relatives. I still think of him everyday, and many days I wish that he was here, so Owen and August would be able to know and love him like I did.
Fast forward years later, I lost my other grandpa the week after Thanksgiving. Again, during that happy holiday season, I grieved and mourned a man who meant so much to me. A man who always made me feel special, took the time to listen to me, and always made me feel loved — even though it was hard for him to say.
And this year...this will be our first year celebrating Christmas without my sister-in-law, Tera. It was the first year that I didn't receive their family's Christmas card the day after Thanksgiving. It will be the first year that I won't have my special almond sugar cookies on the table from Tera. It will be the first year that Tera won't be at our side on Christmas Eve with her huge smile.
So, I know how it feels to celebrate the holidays in all their merriment while my heart feels uneasy and heavy with grief. It got me thinking about how many other people out there might be feeling this way this holiday season. Many people have said that this year has been trying and difficult. People have been feeling so much loss. Some have lost family members, long-term relationships, or even a job. Maybe one of these situations describes yours.
Maybe you or someone you love is grieving the ideal family that you yearn to have, but don’t. To add salt to the wound you’re confronted with the many highlight reels on so many social media channels. Maybe this is the first year that you won’t be able to afford to buy your children all of their heart’s desires. Whatever might be weighing on your heart, or a loved ones heart, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and sensitive to those around you. Maybe take a closer look around you and think if there’s someone who might just need a little extra love this season. Maybe it’s a special hand-written note, or an invitation to a Christmas party, or maybe it’s simply a phone call on Christmas day wishing them a happy holiday.
I hope that many of you are finding yourself full of joy this season and I hope that if you’re not that you’ll still be able to find peace and hope. Remember that even though we may be bombarded with all the lights, decorations, sales, food, etc., the real reason to celebrate is Jesus’s birth! God brought his son to Earth to teach us to have faith, hope, and to love each other, but ultimately Jesus brought us all salvation. I hope that we are all able to hold onto the true meaning of this season!
I'll leave you with some childlike hope and joy!
Blessings to you and your family,