(Releasing roses to daddy on his birthday)
Christmas. The last couple days I could skip right ahead to January. Call me Scrooge but I’m ready for the new year. Endless possibilities, new dreams, new goals. It’s true when they say the holidays after loss can be quite hard. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. It’s full of Hope, Joy, Peace, and promises. This week I want to wash it down with a bowl full of eggnog and 12 dozen cookies. The boys and I went to a Christmas Festival earlier this week, and to be honest we had a blast. But the next day one of the boys was a little sick, so we stayed home all day. Which gave me plenty of time to reflect and also let us watch a couple Christmas movies. That which normally bring me great joy, made me super aware of how broken our family is. The hole of my late husband stabbed like a million glistening icicles right in my chest. And I started in on one of those Grinch like funks, feeling super disconnected. The boys and I are surrounded by tons of amazing people, but this funk brought to light just how much we are brushing the surface. All of our friends in their own lives, and their own families. Connected but all to disconnected at the exact same time. Imagining drinking hot chocolate with Fareed on the couch, a boy in each of our arms. God has given me the capacity to hold these boys. He has stretched my heart in ways that only he can do. But when those Christmas icicles hit, and the images of happy whole families appear everywhere, I can’t help but feel a little bah hum bug. I look at the couple laughing at their children together. The boys on the shoulders of their fathers. The families together beside Santa. And I get lost in the Christmas family flurry. Yesterday I tried to get back into my normal holiday spirit by going Christmas shopping. What felt like a great way to cheer myself up or at least distract myself from the pity party forming in my heart, really was a disaster. My oldest screamed through the entire store for all the Christmas toys and decorations. My youngest was angry he couldn’t have the Christmas balls hanging from the ceiling. I at least got a good laugh that my oldest thought everything would be a great gift for my brothers dog, Sophie. Sorry Nick but Sophie isn’t on our Christmas list. And I’m definitely not buying her a Minecraft coffee mug or slippers. Well call me cliche, but takeout Chinese food always does the trick. Until your youngest learns that it looks like snow when you throw it in the air. Luckily I could laugh and be thankful I just bought an awesome wireless handheld vacuum on Cyber Monday. Why? Because #boymom. The boys were impressed. We moved onto our advent reading and coloring for the night. There has to be a little hope for Christmas cheer left. Typically the boys color the ornaments while I read. Nope, Crayons turned into confetti and chew toys quicker then I could say Yuletide Cheer. I went and sat in the corner of the kitchen and read to myself. I needed the story of Jesus, I needed the story of hope. Refreshed I joined the boys to hang up our half crumpled ornament and read a book. At this point it was bed time. And I prompted myself that I would wake up again my optimistic normal self and super excited for Advent.
Fast forward to the end of Church service where my rambunctious two year old wanted to see what spilt creamer looked like scattered across the cement floor. I was super thankful for amazing friends who rushed to help clean up the mess. But sighed because the 5 minutes of adult interaction we may have had were gone. And before I knew it he was off building a tower with glass candle votives. Trying to avoid disaster, I broke one myself slicing my finger. Shame creeped in. And I felt like a chicken with my head cut off. Picking up the pieces of the broken votive, but also our broken family, and my broken hopes. And now more then ever I needed the story of Christmas. I needed the hope. And the lineage of Christ.
Well here is the part you’ve been waiting for. Because every good story is redemptive. And you know I would never leave you as Green as the Grinch.
My pastor, who’s also my friend, so I hate saying pastor, but for stories sake you get the point… started off his talk by leading us to the lineage of Christ. He pointed us to the broken, every day people that ended up bringing us the Hope of the World. Which is always refreshing. And for me, thinking of treacherous icicles and yuletide funk, reminded me that as broken as life may feel at times, it’s not too far gone. And that we play a role in the Christmas story, in Gods Story. But one line changed it all for me. He said “Jesus is a real person, and we are celebrating his real birth.” And to be honest I hate quoting people because I’m always worried of missing their point. They obviously told it best. But it was the point that Jesus is alive, and we aren’t celebrating some far off whimsical idea of peace and prosperity. We are celebrating a real birth, a birth that changed it all!
I knew this would be a moment that Christmas was forever changed for me.
Just twelve days ago I stood beside the ocean celebrating the birth of someone I love, and who loved me. It to was a real birth. A birth that brought me two amazing children. A birth that brought me some of the best years of my life. A birth that brought me a man who so selflessly loved me. A birth that brought me hope. And because of Christ’s birth, I to know he is alive and we will one day be reunited.
A huge part of celebrating his birth is so our children can know who their father was and how much he loved them. To celebrate the life he lived.
And as all these things crossed my mind, Christmas took new light. And one by one those frozen icicles dangling from my chest started to melt.
It’s not about making Christ the center of Christmas. He is Christmas. We are celebrating a real birth. A birth just like my late husbands that brought hope and life. A real person who loves me, who changed my story. But he not only changed my story. He changed the story of all eternity.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of a real person, Jesus. So that his children may know him even though they have not been able to meet him face to face, yet. To remember his life and the lineage. To tell the story of Christmas that all children may know their father and the love he has for them.
I vowed to myself to always celebrate Fareeds life for these boys. To show them who he was and how much he loved and cared for them. I know I would never go a year without celebrating Christmas, I don’t think anything could put me in full Scrooge mode. But this year I vow to myself, my boys, and all those around me to celebrate the birth of Christ. To tell the stories of his love, to share the amazing things he did while walking this earth. And to remember His life because it is one of hope, joy and redemption not only for those who encountered Him on this earth. But for all eternity. So all His children may know Him.
To melt the icicles of their hearts.