Wednesday, January 6, 2010
the hard bits about Christmas 2009
Christmas was a little strange this year, and I am still trying to think through my emotions and reactions. On the one hand, it was very much like past Christmases. We had the same schedule of events, the same traditions, and activities. On the other hand, we had this one huge difference, this hole that was left by my dad. For most of the time I could keep those feelings pushed down, out of the way, at the back of my mind, at other times they forced themselves to the surface.
Like when we were decorating the tree at my parents' house. Cara joined our family in going over to help my mom get the tree decorated. We knew it would have been way to hard for her to do it herself, both physically and emotionally, and so we decided that it would be a group effort. As we unwrapped the ornaments, it became especially difficult for me as I stumbled on one of my parents' "special" ornanments. When we were growing up, each Christmas my mom would buy everyone their own ornament that ended up in a personal box of ornaments to take with us to our own homes when we got married. Mom always got one for her and Dad, usually an ornament that showed two little animals or other characters together- snowmen, dogs, cats, etc.
The worst was when I came to one marked 2008, and I realized it was the last ornament my mom had bought for her and my dad. I handed it to my mom so that she could put it on the tree, and my heart ached for her as I turned away to give her a private moment of remembering that last Christmas with Dad.
Another tough moment was when we showed up on Christmas morning. We walked in the entry way where the stockings were hung, all in a row, except for my dad's. Instead, his silly Christmas morning hat was hung from the hook, a reminder of the years he wore it while we opened our stockings. All of us kids would make fun of him, as well as my mom who wears her Christmas troll earrings each Christmas morning. Several times that morning I found myself blinking back tears as pangs of loss hit me. The corner of the couch where he used to sit, the breakfast scrapple that he used to make, his laugh and voice, hugs and touch. Yes, he is Alive in the best sense of the word, but he isn't here. He is gone. The reality of that can be avoided in the day to day as I go about my business, but when I let myself remember, the pain is sharp and new again.
So we got through Christmas, and I think our family breathed a collective sigh of relief. This very big milestone was passed, but now we face a new year, one that Dad is not a part of .
Well time marches on, with the innocence gone,
And a darkness has covered the earth
But His Spirit dwells, He speaks, "it is well,"
And the hopeless still offered new birth
He will break the leash of death, it will have no sting
Let the prisoner go free, join the dance and sing
Almighty, most Holy God
Faithful through the ages
Almighty, most Holy God
Glorious, Almighty God
This song came to mind with my last sentence, and once I looked up the lyrics, I realized how appropriate it was. Time is "marching on" and part of my/our innocence is lost as the darkness of death has touched us. Yet the Holy Spirit does speak to our hearts, whispering that "It is well" even in the midst of pain, darkness and death. Because of Jesus we can sing- we are no longer prisoners to sin and death. Our God is mighty, faithful and glorious.