Does this Christmas feel different?
Are you trying with all your might by-golly and refusing to succumb to the changes?
Come hell or high water you’re going to hang that wreath in the same place, put up the tree in the same corner of the family room, send out the same annual Christmas letter if it kills you!?
One of the things that makes Christmas, well…Christmas, are the traditions we’ve collected over the years.
Each family has a Christmas fingerprint – the way you do things every year, no matter what.
Christmas caroling with the church. Grandma makes her jello salad for Christmas brunch. Mom brings the clam dip on Christmas day. We watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” at precisely 5pm on Christmas Eve.
But, then life happens.
Someone we love passes away. We can barely breathe through this time because living this holiday without them is too hard. Everything we used to do to celebrate this time of year is a painful reminder of their absence. But, it’s not just losing loved ones that makes this time of year hard.
Have you lost your job, your home, or maybe divorce has split your “normal” Christmas in two?
I can relate on each of those levels. I understand how the joy of Christmas music can be replaced with a deep, dark melancholy.
When I was going through my divorce twenty-plus years ago, I moved from my adorable home at the back of an adorable court— into a tiny apartment with no furniture.
That Christmas was so hard. Money was scarce and so were decorations for our tree. With my two little ones under the age of four, I wanted to make our tiny place look as festive as possible. My big idea? Make homemade cookie ornaments.
I got busy making gingerbread cookies and hung them all over our tree. When my toddler began eating them, I wanted to cry. So much for the perfect Christmas tree, along with the perfect host of everything else that went with this time of year.
As a single mom, my whole life was different, yet I dug my heels in and refused to allow Christmas to look different. It was going to look exactly the same as it had every year before my divorce if it killed me! Because I wasn’t willing to bend my heart broke instead.
It sounds so silly now.
When I sat my children in front of our Charlie Brown tree to take photos, David Joseph, my 18 mos. old, reached up and grabbed an ornament. As I snapped pictures he bit off a leg here and an arm there. I whimpered to my mom later on the phone, “I’m so frustrated. My tree is decorated with a bunch of gingerbread amputees. “
My 18 mos. old is 22yrs old now and that imperfect Christmas photo with a legless gingerbread man stuffed in his mouth? Yeah, you guessed it, it’s one of my favorites.
Don’t be rigid with Christmas tradition and perfection. You might just miss God taking you somewhere else for something better. – Joanne Kraft
Christmas is not a perfect destination created with perfect Pinterest DIY projects. And here’s another thing I’ve learned, you can’t create or duplicate Christmas like the year before, so stop trying. Christmas is not tangible or attainable–it just is. Let yourself off the hook and stop white-knuckling the ghost of Christmas past.
Christmas season is about loving one another in the messes, salvaging sweet memories alongside hardships and heartaches–even when things don’t look the same. The Spirit of Christmas means clinging to the knowledge that God is with us through it all.
Why not surrender what once was and allow Christmas to be what now is?
Embrace this different Christmas. Allow Immanuel to guide the way. You may just discover the Lord had something better for you all along.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23
elaine @ peace for the journey says
I can see the picture in my mind! I had a Christmas like that as well. In fact, I was looking at those photos the other day, reflecting on what a sad time that was for all of us. You could see it on the faces of my young sons (3 & 5). I am grateful for the grace that has moved us forward and into a place of rest.
Candy canes and gingerbread! You’re making me hungry girl.
The hardest Christmas memories are some of the sweetest now. Funny how that happens, huh?
Katie Chaney says
Back when Chris was 3 and Travis was 10, I broke my leg in a terrible trampoline accident. It would take a year of missed work, living in a wheelchair and inability to even shop before I could hobble my way through life again. Oh we managed and I had a few wonderful friend who helped me pick up the pieces, but for the most part, I was responsible for … well, everything. Like you, a single mom. Christmas tree decorations that year consisted of Travis folding dozens of origami paper cranes out of Christmas wrap and Christopher drawing family stick figures on paper, gluing them to Christmas wrap and cutting them out. We had a real paper tree that year. It was very pretty. I’d like to say that I kept every crane and every stick figure, but sadly through the years, I think I might only be able to find one or two. Still the picture is fresh in my mind and that Christmas is one of my most favorites.
How sweet, Katie. You’d better post a picture of one of paper cranes. Precious.