The Ones We Miss At Christmas

The ones we miss at Christmas by Martha WilliamsonBy this time in my life, Christmas has moved from completely magical to a little bittersweet.  Putting aside for just a moment, the true joy of the season, the message of God’s love and his promise-fulfilling gift of a Messiah, the actual Christmas season can be a hard time when you are missing the very ones you used to share this magical time with.  I love sharing Christmas traditions with my husband and children, lighting the advent candles, playing our favorite Christmas albums, decorating the tree, and wrapping presents by a cozy fire.  But these were all the things I learned to do as a child myself with parents who are no longer here. 

For every Christmas carol I sing, I have a Christmas memory to go with it. My mom waltzing to Winter Wonderland, my dad leading carolers through hospital corridors on Christmas Eve singing “Silent Night.”   I see them in the forest of Christmas Trees as we walk through the lot, searching for the perfect Noble Fir. I  see them sitting at a dining room table covered with Christmas cards, Mama addressing and Daddy stuffing, sealing, and putting on the stamps. 

Every once in a while, I’ll find myself tearing up, and then I’ll stop myself and say, “This is Christmas, Martha.  You can’t cry at Christmas. This is a time to remember that all the blessings we have been given and that when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we also celebrate all that he came to bring, including the promise that we will all be together again someday with those we love and have gone before.  But let’s face it, someday isn’t now.  And right now, it hurts, doesn’t it?

Today I am thinking about all those folks who are separated this Christmas from the people they love, either by death or war, by prison or estrangement, or separated simply by miles. The ones who are afraid that if the feelings are allowed out of our hearts, we might just fall apart all together.  But maybe it’s not a bad idea to go ahead, and cry.  To go away somewhere and allow ourselves to feel the pain, let our hearts break a little, and get it all out. When we keep trying to keep the painful things that Christmas can make us feel all locked up INSIDE our hearts, then it works the other way, too:  none of the joy that’s waiting for us can get in from the other side.

So, think about it. Make room in your heart for hope and change and peace. Have yourself a good cry if you need too. And then have yourself a merry little Christmas.