I realize how tough this time of year can be for some.
I remember the times Christmas was so very hard for me; when I didn't want to celebrate, when I just wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there.
It was Christmas in 1973. My mom had died unexpectedly two months before.
"How do we do Christmas without mom?"
"What do we even do?"
It wasn't very fun. Who cared about the tree? The decorations?
But it was to be the last Christmas we would celebrate in the home we grew up in. So we did it. My sister and her family came from Mexico. My older brother came from Oregon. My younger brother and I were home.
We bought the tree. We decorated it. And we did it just to "do it" the one last time.
Vividly, I remember saying I would cook the turkey. I was sure I remember how my parents did it. In a greased bag at a high temp for an hour and then a lower temp for another hour and a half. We all thought that was how it was done.
We had a pink turkey. It wasn't cooked all the way through. I cried again.
My grandmother was there. She had lost her only child. She wanted to be with us. We tried to make it special for her. I'm sure we failed there too. I remember flying to Los Angeles to take my grandmother home. She got sick and I had to call 911. I remember kneeling on the floor of her living room in her small apartment begging God not to take her. I couldn't handle another loss. Thankfully, He didn't.
But it was in the words of Alexander, a "no good, terrible, awful Christmas".
The other Christmas that was very hard happened in the mid 80's. I was a NICU nurse and was taking care of a sweet sweet baby named David who had Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type II. It is a brittle bone disease and he was born with over 200 fractures over his tiny little body. David was never expected to live through his delivery, but he did.
David lived for ten days. I was his primary care nurse and I did everything I could to make him comfortable and help his parents endure this tragedy. David died on Christmas Eve. It was a very emotional day for me. I had three healthy children and this couple had just lost their son. I had to "rally" for my kids sake, but my sorrow was immense that year.
I have several friends that will spend their first Christmas without their loved one. It will be hard. It will be different. It will be sad.
The second Christmas for me without my mom was harder than the first because I realized how immense the loss was: I never again would have Christmas with her. So already I am praying for my best friend and her family as they will have another Christmas without their son and brother.
The good thing is: we have our memories and they can be such gifts; such blessings.
I still make every year the brownies my mom made at Christmas and gave away. Those were the brownies we always left for Santa. Those brownies were my grandmother's recipe, and I very rarely give that recipe away. It's one of the few things I have left of my mom and Honey (my gram) that no one can take away.
IF this Christmas is one you are dreading, please try and remember the blessings and the gifts you have been given.
It is a gift to mourn the loss of someone you will miss, that person was a treasured gift of love, and how blessed are we to have known and received love.
Remember the person with fondness.
How they made you laugh.
The silly, quirky things they did.
The things that drove you crazy.
The fun times you had in different places.
The sweet moments that you treasure.
The words you remember spoken to you.
BE THANKFUL for how your life was enriched by that person.
How your life won't be the same again, and you don't have to try and make it be, but the ONE THING NO ONE CAN TAKE FROM YOU IS YOUR MEMORIES of your dear loved one.
In the midst of the sadness, your grief, realize that you are not alone.
There is someone who understands.
Someone too, who lost a dearly loved son.
Someone who understands your grief and cries with you.
Someone who will be there in the darkest, scariest moments you endure.
Someone who longs to cradle you and whisper to you:
" I know. I understand. I love you. I am here with you."
This is the GOD who made you, who created you, who loves you. Who blessed your life be giving you people to love, to share your grief and joys.
GOD cries with you. He knows and feels your loss.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Try each day to find one or two or even five things to be thankful for. Gifts you have been given. Blessings you have experienced.
This won't make the holidays easier.
But it might make you more aware that there are things we take so often for granted, that are meant to bless us.
Sometimes, for me at least, it is good to have something else to do besides cry.
May you find the HOPE that Christmas really is.