Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas 2014...

Friends, this will be my last post of the year. I hope you meet up with me again come the New Year. I’ll try my best to post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but if you’ve been with me for a while you know those deadlines get a little slippery at times. I look forward to the lessons the new year will bring us all. Thank you for traveling with me.
Today, I speak to my fellow mourners, and to those who love someone who is mourning. This is my second Christmas without my husband. He died last October, so last Christmas, I barely remember. In fact there are whole chunks of last year that my memory banks have let go of. What I do remember about Christmas 2013 are all the sharp edges. Gone was the excitement of Christmas morning. Gone was the enjoyment of carols sung. Gone were the Christmas tree and the twinkling lights. And, surprisingly, the most excruciating part of Christmas last year was getting anywhere near the ‘men’s section’ in a store. My palms got clammy and my breathing swallow. I remember once at TJ Maxx scrambling for a chair before I lost my legs. In my mind, my house was wrapped in a shroud, as was my heart. But, I got through it, or I should say, the Father of that newborn babe we celebrate at this time of the year, He got me through it. He nudged a few of my friends for help to send me cards, give me a call, or just be that someone for me to talk to. The one bright spot of Christmas morning last year was my six-month-old grandniece. I distinctly remember looking through this long swirling tunnel at her as she squealed with glee at everything from wrapping paper to squeaky toys. I was afraid to take my eyes off of her in fear I’d completely disappear and be lost forever. When you are in mourning, Christmas has a cruel side.
A year later, it’s a little bit better. I’ve tried to narrow my focus and scale down the flashy parts. It’s not the MERRY or the CHRISTMAS that rings true for me. Those words do not belong back in my world yet. However, the C-H-R-I-S-T part of Christmas has my attention. He stands in front of me and gently beckons me to concentrate on His face. This is hard to do with twinkle lights, wrapping paper, and Black Friday standing behind Him making faces. I still can’t stomach most of the above. But, if I filter them through the Christ, the Son of God, my Savior, the Great Healer, and finally the Cross and the Empty Tomb, I’m able to endure the loud jingle bells. Jesus puts it all in perspective. He points me to people, people I love, people who love me, people who are good, and people who need Him and don’t know it. The minute I take my eyes off of Him, the noise of the holiday cuts through with razor sharp claws and I begin to crumble. It’s all so exhausting.
So, I’m taking your face in my hands and moving in close. Hear me! If you’ve recently lost a loved one, give yourself a break. Your Christmas traditions will not be lost or rendered null and void if you simply skip them. As my husband used to say, “Things are only good for what they are good for.” If those traditions have sharp teeth at the moment, leave them lie. Or, if they are the just the thing that gets you through this time, then go ahead and mimic your way through them. Only you get to decide this. Find what keeps you from falling into the pit and hang on.
If you are a loved one of someone who has lost the love of his or her life, or a child, or a father or a mother, I’m pointing my finger at you and moving in close. Hear me! Take your cues from them. They are hurting and this hurt lasts a long time. Don’t push. Don’t judge. The only thing required of you is your presence. Be there! Is it hard to be around someone who might burst out in tears at the sight of cranberry sauce? Awkward, yes. But be there! Is it uncomfortable for you to hear them talk about the one they lost? Could be. But it’s not about you. Be there!
Like I said, this Christmas is a bit better for me. I’m staying home. All the kids and grandkids will be here. It’s time to reclaim some of our traditions. We are going to laugh a little, cry a little and eat a lot. We’re going to exchange gifts, which will undoubtedly remind us that one of us is missing. In fact, everything we do will remind us of that fact. So, we’ll just have to remember Gary. Tell stories about him. Laugh at his antics. Weep together. And, hang on tightly to each other during the rough spots.
Again, thank you for your company as I’ve walked this jagged road. Your love, support and encouragement have seen me through many blurry days. May our God bless you. May He continue holding us close. May we continue to find ways to make Him proud.
For Jesus,

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