It’s Christmastime, and I’m supposed to be focused on the coming of Baby Jesus. I’m supposed to be engaged in anticipation, preparing my heart for His arrival in a stable long ago.
It’s Christmastime, and I’m supposed to be festive and bright, reliving the wonder of childhood, all twinkle lights and icicles and hot chocolate with marshmallows and wrapping-papered mysteries under the tree.
It’s Christmastime, and the focus is supposed to be joy, love, peace on earth, goodwill to all. I still hold onto these, but they are several layers underneath right now, harder to retrieve. These are the liturgy I rely on, out of habit, out of the hope that if I continue moving forward I will one day walk to where I genuinely feel these things again.
Left to my own resources, without others depending on me or without commitments to maintain, I’d admit my landscape is more reflected in a windswept tundra than in the cozy abundant glow of a hearth hung with patchwork stockings that bulge with promises.
While the tundra may be the condition of my heart right now, I hope the edges can melt by small degrees. One morning I’ll step out and the air will smell different, a warmer breeze will blow. This must be true. How could someone drag themselves along if this weren’t true? Things must alleviate with time, morph into a different form that is better addressable in an organizable time frame, rather than intruding into everything. Time will make it less all-encompassing, less raw. That part’s already becoming true for me. I can gingerly touch on the subject of my dad without losing my composure now, whereas I couldn’t a short time ago.
So maybe those flashes of warmth I feel, those moments when I am caught up in something or forgetful of the loss for a moment, maybe those are flashes of hope for another year that’s yet to come. Look too closely at it and it will dart away. But keep your eyes straight ahead, and you might begin to sense its presence alongside the sadness. Catch a glimpse of it in your peripheral vision, this hope that can coexist with loss and mourning.
This is a new thing I’m learning: hope existing alongside loss.
But I’d rather have the hope without the loss.
We probably all know someone for whom holidays are challenging because of a loss or a broken relationship. How can we make space for these friends and family members in the midst of our holiday patterns and traditions? How have you faced your own loss during significant holiday seasons?