I once wrote that each Christmas gets better and better after losing someone you love to the grave. I meant well, but I was wrong.
Stay tuned. There’s hope in this story.
Last year, a great pall fell upon me for reasons I cannot pinpoint. I was unhappy with Christmas. Go away. Come back next year. My grief surged.
Not that it was as bad as the first Christmases. Those would be the ones right after my father died in 2006 and right after my mother died in 2009. I was better last year than those years, but my holiday grief didn’t steadily improve.
I realize now that some Christmases aren’t going to be as good, or better, than others. That’s true whether you have had a death in the family or not, so certainly it is true when you do.
Christmas comes loaded with expectations. I had allowed my expectations to dictate my mood. Expectations aren’t going to just evaporate, especially at Christmas, but we can rescue our holiday from them.
As long as I rely on money, relationships or traditions to make my Christmas, I will be disappointed, but if I focus my attention on God and his blessings, Christmas isn’t lost. It may not be everything I hope for, but it isn’t lost.
I know grief will interrupt my Christmas celebrations. I hear Silent Night and recall that it was Mom’s favorite Christmas tune. We sang it at her funeral on a hot July morning. But I love the “sleep in heavenly peace” part. I think about my Mom, who died in her sleep 11 days after breaking her hip. She’s at peace now. She’s with God now. And though I want her to be here with me and I grieve, I am glad she isn’t suffering.
Poverty, heartache and conflict cannot take away God’s loving care. We celebrate the baby Jesus, called Immanuel in the book of Matthew. That means “God with us.” He offers to be with us in our grief.
That is an expectation I can rely upon this Christmas.
What expectations will you release this holiday season? What blessing will you embrace?
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