Christmas can be an emotional time for many, there are so many expectations that come with this season that it is understandable emotions can be wound tightly.
It may be the pressure of providing the perfect gifts for family and friends while having financial pressures, it could be that family member who is avoidable throughout the year cannot be ignored at Christmas. You may have responsibility of cooking dinner for a small army or perhaps planned expectations for the season haven’t gone to plan. I am you could fill in your own example of an emotional Christmas.
I have my own, this Christmas Day marks 20 years since my Mum died. It feels like an age which it is, but then as so often with emotions it can creep up on you and as if by time machine you’re in the same spot hearing “you don’t have a mummy anymore” from your Dad who has lost his wife at 35 years old. It’s just all a bit crazy when you write it down, and there is no explanation for it and I am ok with that now.
I can remember the first Christmas without my Mum, everyone counting down with advent calendars, and friends at school writing Christmas lists with all the toys they had wanted. At 10 years old I had done the best to steel myself as much as I could, I had been brave through Mother’s Day and I had got past her birthday, the worst was over I told myself.
The thing about Christmas however is it is encapsulated by family traditions, what are you doing to countdown to the day, whose house are you celebrating in, trimming the tree all of that your parents play a huge role in and my mum and her family had this one sorted.
Now that she was gone, Christmas wasn’t the same. It was a sad time, as a child you soak up the atmosphere you are in so I didn’t want to make my grandparents more upset at the devastation losing their only child causes, and my Dad from that first year changed Christmas completely we always went away on holiday, it was preferable if it was abroad as if the miles would change the reality.
Christmas always loomed, I never looked forward to it, yes some of the day was good it would be a lie to say it wasn’t, there were presents but I could have happily scratched the day off the calendar.
Which makes it all the more remarkable don’t you think that I am blogging my way to Christmas, and have a calendar full of Christmassy things planned.
I think this all comes with maturity not just because I was 9 then and now it’s 20 years later but I have walked this grief, tear stained trail first by myself in my own strength and now in later years with God.
It sounds too simple to say that once I focused on the date of my Mother’s death and now I focus on the day of my Saviours birth because that should be the reasonable Christian answer right? You know the kind of blog posts I mean “I had a tough week, but God is good” it’s true I am sure but it all comes off cookie cutter Christianity when you don’t know the writer personally.
I have some battle scars and if I wander off my wounds can have a tendency to reopen and then I am need of repair again, but surely that is real life, my struggles with grief at this season and the ability to celebrate through it is a testimony to God’s grace and not through my efforts.
If you are approaching the first year or the 20th year without a loved one around the Christmas table, there is a God who understands, who cares and who will walk with you through it.
Thousands of years ago when he sent his Son, clothed in frail human flesh, He wasn’t ignorant of what would happen for it had been planned from the start.
Jesus would die for our sins. God willingly sacrificed His son because of his great love for us. He is not unaware of the depths of grief at Christmas time.