It’s almost Christmas. Am I ready? Are you?
We have a tree, some holly, and a poinsettia. There are some festive placemats on the table. Our decorations are very simple-a couple of nativity scenes are out on the side tables. Funny thing, though–we can’t find the huts they sit in. We know we own them and we had them last year. But this year, Baby Jesus has to sit in a new place. The other decorations are the same ones we use year after year. We have plenty of presents for the kids and each other. Although there are less than there have been in the past, we know they will like them.
But this year, there is a huge difference. Like our poor nativity scenes, we’ve lost our place. We don’t have our church home (or Rob’s job) anymore, and it hurts. It hurts so much that we are having trouble feeling that light-hearted excitement, the overwhelming joy, the thrill of the joyous feelings of Christmas. We are slogging through the motions, trying to find new traditions, new places to go, new memories. Since we had been there almost 19 years, many of our holiday traditions were connected there, and now they are not. So, no Christmas events or dinners with people we considered our family and friends, no Christmas Eve service to play music for, no Christmas choir to sing in, no worship team to play on, no baskets of candy canes to hand out to the children, no playing with the babies in the nursery as our family always did during one of the Christmas Eve services. We have been attending another church, but it’s very different to watch, and not be involved–it’s just not home yet.
So, what are we doing to combat those feelings? We are allowing ourselves time to grieve and work through this situation. Friends have been very kind and supportive, offering us innumerable opportunities to go to their events with them. We haven’t gone. We’ve been invited to church services, Bible studies, movie nights, and more. We’ve mostly declined, except for the Sunday morning services we are attending with family. We are still grieving. For us, it’s like a death. A death that needs to be grieved properly. We cry a lot. We mourn. We feel anger, sadness, and more. We pray. We pray some more. There are good days, interspersed with the bad. As time passes, there have been more good days. There is a feeling of hope that was not there before. A sense of peace, and of the goodness of God, who cares for us in the hard times along with the easy ones. An overwhelming knowledge that He is still in charge, in control, and involved with our lives. And, slowly, we are creeping back to life inside. We will be ready soon,we think, to take these friends up on some of their offers–ready to take on another big adventure, as Rob calls it.
We have spent more time with family than we have ever had time to do before. They have been so supportive, caring, loving and kind to us. They have listened, hugged us, had us over, fed us, prayed with us, given us gifts, helped out with the children, and much more. The time spent has turned out to be one of the hidden blessings of this whole situation, and mere words could never express how thankful we are to them.
We have chosen to be purposefully thankful. We are deliberately looking for things that we have to be thankful for. Our needs are being met. We have a home, food, clothes, family, friends, and much more. We have much to be grateful for.
We have chosen several activities that make Christmas feel like Christmas to us. We are already very busy people. We have chosen carefully so that we did not lose the meaning of Christmas in busy-ness. We have attended Patsy’s 6th grade band concert. We had our usual 4H Christmas party. One daughter is in a homeschool choir and we will watch her Christmas concert. We are choosing to attend a church choir concert one evening. We are going to modify our traditions. We will go to church on Christmas Eve, it will just be different. I will have food ready when we get home and we will still unwrap our presents like usual and go to my sister’s on Christmas Day, like normal. Our children do better with routine. This has been very hard on them and we are trying to make things as normal as possible for them in a situation that is anything but. It seems like this year, we have been more focused on the true meaning of Christmas and family. It seems that hard times truly do push us closer to the manger. And, like our poor nativity sets, perched on 2 tables, we will adapt and survive. Because, God is bigger than all of this. And Christmas….Christmas is way beyond us, and our paltry troubles here on earth. It’s a celebration of the Christ Child–God Incarnate, sent to earth, the hope of the world and all mankind. Am I ready for Christmas? I’m sure working hard to be. How about you?