Christmas Time

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{above photo property of Imago}
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As I wrote about yesterday, it just doesn’t quite feel like Christmas this year. I wonder if this is because, in some ways, I don’t want it to. We put so much meaning into holidays and the magic they hold {compared to regular old rest-of-the-year days}. And I suppose we do this more for kids than anyone else. I know for myself, before Izzy came along, Christmas “magic” was starting to fizzle in my early 30s. Then Izzy came and rekindled that magic. But I guess that’s why I might be pushing aside “feelings” of Christmas this year… because it seems more special when children are involved. Perhaps also because I can’t help but think of all the Christmases to come when I’ll be wondering what our little girl would be like {if she’d been born healthy and thriving}… on her fourth Christmas… on the sixth when all she wants is her two front teeth… on her tenth… twelfth… when she gets proposed to on her twentieth Christmas Eve or brings her brand new baby to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for her thirty-second Christmas.

It’s thoughts like this that have me digging my way out of all the presents and ads and decorations and Christmasy goodies meant for consumption… even all the music and meaningful traditions, like seeing family and spending that come-once-a-year kind of time together. Digging my way out to get down to the truest and most real reason we pause. The birth of Christ. And not just His birth, but the entire reason He came… for us… for salvation… for the opportunity to be with Him for eternity. Eternity is no longer just a word or a concept in the Christian faith to me. It’s everything. Eternity is where I hope to once again see my little girl. It’s where I have my hope… hope for no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain. Where I will spend all of time with the one who created me, as well as my daughter… and worship forevermore. The one who will raise us up with Jesus and bring us into His presence.

So much better said here and here, this is what the Christmas message is to me this year. Not just His birth, but his death and resurrection, and what that means for eternity.

And so I find myself holding tight to those words and messages through these days when I don’t feel so festive. Words that plant in me this hope that I have. The hope that can actually make it okay in the midst of the deepest pain, even right now… six short days after I lost my one and only daughter… hope enough to cherish and celebrate with my one and only son. Sadly, he understands more about Christmas {both the spiritual and commercial sides of it} than he does about losing his sister. And at two-and-a-half, I am actually okay with that. I want this Christmas to be as “magical” as it can be for him… and not one marked with sadness. This helps mom and dad in some way, too. I’ll let Christmases to come be about the understanding… and remembering, too… about celebrating both the birth of Christ and that time of year when our sweet Anysia was born.

This year, I treasure the images that say “Christmas”, even when feeling Christmasy doesn’t come easily. We tried to keep our days leading up to Anysia’s birth as normal as possible… for Izzy’s sake mostly. That meant attending a company holiday party hosted by dear friends of ours. It meant putting our tree up in Christmas-as-usual fashion, and stringing the lights with help from our little elf. It even meant sending out Christmas cards.

Also, feeling festive or not, I’ve still made a point to put on all the familiar Christmas tunes… especially in light of my latest blog post. I am amazed at the way certain words or verses are popping out of these songs and taking on so much more meaning than all the thousands of times I had ever heard or read them before. Like these…

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me for ever and love me, I pray
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there

I just about wept hearing those sung last night as we wrapped presents for Izzy while he was asleep. I don’t think I ever gave that verse from Away in a Manger much thought or attention before… not like I do now. All I could think of was my tiny baby, and once again cling to the hope that she is there with Him.

This Christmas Day is anything but a normal one. Normally, I’d be too busy and too far from a computer to even consider sitting down to write. This year, I remain here at home… just not able to do all those other usual things. But I can celebrate in the face of grief. There is sadness with equal parts joy. There are questions with equal parts hope. And there is struggle with equal parts beauty. And for the remainder of the day, I intend to keep looking for that beauty. Much like the eve before, all is calm on this day… no hustle or bustle. Just waiting for family to trickle in here and there and wish us all the best… and us them. The occasional “Merry Christmas… You are in my prayers today” texts coming from friends who have been walking this road with us for months. A day not like any other I’ve known. And not because it’s December 25th so much as because it’s Day 6. But a blessed day, none the less.

To you reading this day, only one simple wish comes to mind as I finish typing. Merry Christmas, wherever you find yourself and wherever you are at. May you know the full story of Christ this day… especially in the light of how you fit in to this most important story. And may you know His love and light in your life.

I guess that was three wishes, wasn’t it? Merry, merry Christmas.
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