It’s a different kind of Christmas this year. A familiar face is missing. An emptiness can be felt in the hearts of many. Traditions have gone slightly awry. Things are not normal. Home does not feel like home. Family comes over, and laughs half-heartedly, because everyone feels the gap.
This is the case for many this Christmas. Maybe a loved one has died. Maybe a significant other has left the picture. Maybe a beautiful daughter, sister, or friend is battling for her life in the hospital. Maybe an awful accident has shaken your entire world.
This Christmas, all those who are in pain have something in common.
Because this Christmas is a first Christmas.
This is my first Christmas without my fabulously beautiful mother.
Without her, things don’t seem to quite fit anymore. Things that used to matter seem less important. When I remember how much she loved this season, my heart aches with missing her. When I remember many friends who are also in deep pain this season, my heart aches with theirs.
It’s not the same this year.
Some of the joy, wonder, beauty, has waned for those experiencing deep trauma. Where is the joy in decorating the tree? Where is the desire for baking cookies? It’s not the same without her.
And yet, how thankful I am for the people I have left here, right by my side. The real, living, breathing people who need me. The people who so desperately need a semblance of normalcy.
I can make the cookies, because she taught me how. I can decorate the tree, because she showed me what to do. I can clean, because my dad needs a woman’s touch in our big, empty house. It feels hollow without her loud and raucous sneezes, her slightly off-key renditions of Sandi Patti Christmas carols.
I can buy the groceries, because I learned from the best cook that ever was.
In the midst of difficult memories of the exact spot where she died, new memories can be made with those who remain. In spite of the searing pain, we carry on. And, the only reason that we can, is Jesus Christ, our Savior, who experienced the greatest searing pain of all. His purpose in life, was death, and not just any death, an awful and humiliating death. And a holy Father watched his sinless son die in agony.
And so, when the pain is deep, whelming and so, so real, remember that He, the one born to die, knows. He knows better than anyone ever could.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
And also know, that you are not alone in your pain, as others this season are also wading through deep trials.
I have been tempted to give up, to retreat into myself, to lie back and let everything go past. But I will not. I will defy the desire to stay in bed. I will defy the desire to be absent. I will defy the desire to be lazy. I will defy the desire to despair. Because Jesus really is the reason for the season. No matter what is different, or who is missing, there is a constant.
And it is our wonderful God.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Even in the midst of suffering, he is faithful to provide all of our needs.
This Christmas is a different kind of Christmas for many. But in spite of the ache, glorify your Father in heaven for what you do have, no matter what he has taken away.
I wish my mom was here so it could be “normal.” I am in danger of becoming stuck in this idea of normal. It is ok, it is fine, it is necessary to form a new normal. That does not mean that I will forget her, but it does mean that I can continue without her, even if I am limping along.
The lessons I need to learn? Remember that Jesus is the reason for this season. Be joyful for what I have. Love the people near me. Move forward, little by little. And don’t get paralyzed with pain.
Maybe it’s hard this year. Maybe it’s not hard. The lessons are static regardless.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Run to him, as I must. Fall in your face before him, as I must. Cry to him, as I must. And be comforted that he knows.