Today 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 sat and 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 is getting a little older and starting to get more interested and excited. 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 sat and 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 lost my Grandpa (two days before Christmas). This was not only the first loved one that I have ever lost, but it was a very close one to me. I still think of him everyday, and many days I wish that he was here, so Owen 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 this happy holiday season, I grieved and mourned a man who meant so much to me. A man who always made me feel like I was special, always took the time to listen to me, and always made me feel loved — even though it was hard for him to say.
So, I do know how it feels to celebrate the holidays in all their merriment while my heart felt uneasy and full of grief. It got me thinking about how many other people out there might be feeling this way this holiday season. I have known many who have said that 2016 has been a tough year and I can definitely relate. Maybe you have a close family member who has just lost a loved one, or recently ended a long-term relationship, or who has disconnected from their family, or maybe that person is you.
Maybe you or someone you love is grieving the ideal family that you yearn to have, but don’t and 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 continued to read the bulletin at church today and found that my church offers a service called, “Blue Christmas.” It’s a place and time to find hope and healing during the season. I urge anyone out there who may be feeling alone, or may need a little bit of hope to check it out. My church is in Burnsville, but I believe many congregations offer a similar service during the season.
I hope that many of you are finding yourself full of joy this season and I hope that if you’re not you’ll 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 love, and ultimately Jesus brought us all salvation. I hope that we are all able to hold onto the true meaning this season!
Blessings to you and your family,
Three items I’m grateful for:
- Renewed joy
- New friendships
- New opportunities