For sixty-two years they did Christmas together. This year they will be apart. Mom remains with us while dad will be spending his first Christmas with the Christ child.
Our parents understood the meaning of Christmas and hey did everything to make each one a special occasion. Even during lean years we didn’t know the difference because of their sacrifice to make the day special, which is why Christmas remains my favorite holiday of the year. Christmas then was so pure and simple. Playing in the snow with the neighbor kids, playing a part in the Christmas pageant, visiting the animated window displays of the large downtown department stores, caroling in freezing temperatures- all precious memories of a time now past, a time that can’t be recaptured, just recalled. They were truly wonderful times.
Christmas is the ultimate magnifier of emotions. For some it brings a heightened sense of compassion for the poor and needy. For some it brings back vivid memories and nostalgia of Christmas past. Those in new or healthy relationships find the season resembling their favorite Hallmark Christmas movie. But for those who have lost loved ones or are discouraged or facing challenges, it can be cruel, a stark reminder of when times were better. And for the lonely, it can be the most depressing time of the year, a precursor to an even more lonely New Years Eve just a week away. Even those who have learned how to navigate the emotional highs and lows of the Holiday season, know to tread lightly lest they step on a landline of memories of better times that cause them to stumble ala Griswold watching home movies while trapped in his attic.
Our mom has poured herself into getting out and doing for others in honor of dad, who would have accompanied her until he could no longer leave home. While she has expressed to me the loneliness of missing dad, she doesn’t dwell on it in unhealthy ways. Her faith compels her to serve others in his memory, therefore allowing her recall precious times while remaining proactive in avoiding the solitude of the first Christmas without him. This helps her manage lonely nights when she misses his voice and his presence.
The challenge is real. Almost every Christmas movie is a love story. TV commercials are designed to make us spend money for that special person in our life. Concerts and shows are nice but would be better shared with someone. Every night is a Silent Night, a vivid reminder of being alone. But there are some easy remedies to combat the holiday blues.
1. Take long hot baths or showers and let the warmth of the water wash over you and calm your mind.
2. Bake something from scratch with your favorite Christmas music playing in the background and find someone to give them to.
3. Volunteer. During the holidays there are so many organizations begging for extra help as they serve the poor and needy of their communities.
4. Take an evening excursion through local displays of lights.
5. Try and find an opportunity to go caroling with others, a lost tradition still practiced if you look hard enough.
6. Take time to intentionally reflect on the Christmas story, never losing sight of why we celebrate such a beautiful holiday every year.
On that first Christmas Eve over two thousand years ago Christ was born through human means into the world he created to begin a journey that would reconcile us to his father. He came for the widowed, the discouraged, the lonely, to give us hope and a reason to remember the season. Isaiah reminds us in chapter 41,
“ Fear not for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, I am still your God. I will help you and hold up with my mighty right hand.”
Later Jesus reminds us that he is always with us. Mom will be without dad for the first time in her adult life, but in Christ she is never alone. The same can be said for all of us. Don’t let the sting of isolation destroy the hope Christmas brings to each of us. This wonderful, counselor, mighty God and prince of peace is always near if we seek him. Merry Christmas to all my readers. Thank you for your encouragement. I love each of you!