We’ve all been there. Holidays that are meant to be joyful family reunions, but are not quite complete because someone is missing.
Maybe that someone is you. Or a loved one who couldn’t make it home–or one who has found an eternal home.
It’s a mixed bag of emotions. Wonderful and horrible at the same time. (Again.) We are excited to see so many of our dear ones, only to be vividly reminded of the ones that aren’t here…
What then, are we to do?
Do we try not to think about it and put our best face forward? For those of us that have lost loved ones, or for all of the sweet mothers out there longing for their family to be back in the nest, this idea would be nigh to impossible.
So we choose to embrace it.
We have lost loved ones, celebrated Christmas away from home, and have had children and grandchildren celebrating Christmas while living halfway across the world.
If you were to ask me how I did it, I would probably say, “not very well!”. Even though in the flesh I struggled with disappointment and even grief, in the Spirit, and only through close communication with my Heavenly Father, could I embrace the holidays with JOY.
He understands, you know.
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17
- TRUST THE LORD. He knows the circumstance you are in. He didn’t just send His Son into the world to save you–He sent His Spirit to guide you. Let Him show you how to maneuver through the holidays. Your feelings and your struggles are not a surprise to Him. Talk to Him. Ask Him to help you. He will!
“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11
- TELL THE STORIES. Not talking about it is unnatural. Trying to avoid conversation about those that are absent will bring frustration and bottled up emotion. Laugh and cry as you celebrate the day. It’s okay to express your emotions as long as you remain kind. Give yourself permission to focus on the positive, without feeling any guilt for choosing joy!
- FIND A WAY TO INCLUDE THEM. Call, Skype or FaceTime if you can. Send them a special video to open for the day. Keep pictures and reminders in front of you, celebrate the memories and make new ones.
The Christmas after my father-in-law passed away we celebrated in many of the usual ways. Keeping traditions can be a comfort to those that are feeling alone or anxious about celebrating without a loved one. That first Christmas was probably the hardest, but the small tree we decorated in his honor will always be a special memory. We all brought ornaments that reminded us of him in some way.
Each ornament held a memory from his wife, children and grandchildren. We talked about missing him and one by one each person brought their ornament to hang on the tree while telling the story behind it. The walk down memory lane was priceless, and we laughed and cried at the recollection of so many ways that God had blessed us through this wonderful husband, father and grandfather.
Grandma still puts the tree up every year, and it is a special reminder of a godly man who led his family well–and of a Christmas past that will always hold a special place in our hearts.
The days of our children and grandchildren living in Madagascar is only a memory now, but we can smile at the way God provided us with little trinkets of joy all along the way.
This year we will read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2, eat a Birthday Cake for Jesus, unashamedly sing, “Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come!”, and with Mary proclaim,
“My soul praises the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One
has done great things for me, and His name is holy. His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear him.” Luke 1:47-50