So we made it to today.
The first Christmas for my kids without their mom.
The first Christmas without my wife.
How are we doing it? We're making it. One breath at a time. One moment at a time.
We have kept some traditions in place and added a new twist or two along the way. It is not the same. A year ago we really expected to have a few more years together. Heather was so full of life, hope, and energy. We were blessed by being "adopted" by some friends who made it an incredible time.
This year was different. The kids and I spent the Christmas Eve at the church we have been attending for a couple of months. It was so different from Christmas Eves of past years. I did not preach but instead volunteered on the parking lot team for two of the three services. Every time I went inside, my kids were in different conversations with new friends they've been making.
Different and yet, very much the same. The traditions of our family and our faith have proven to me just how healing and comforting traditions can be. If there is one thing I have learned and would counsel, it is this: do not dismiss all traditions when walking through the valley of suck.
Do indeed add a twist or two along the way. You can certainly leave out some things too if you need it. Every little decoration did not come out! In fact, probably half stayed in boxes. One of Heather's legacies was that we would NEVER be at a loss for decorations!
Did I wonder how it would be? Yes, often I did. I wondered what would trigger me; what sights or sounds or smells, would bring back memories? I was most surprised when the chorus of Silent Night began and the candles were lit in the sanctuary. The words would not come but only tears. Oh, I wouldn't give that up for anything! And it was then my imagination, a godly gift indeed, kicked in and I could see, if only for a moment, Heather and us, together, singing in worship on Christmas Eve!
This above all else has brought me the most comfort in the tradition of my faith now: to know that when I gather with the Body of Christ, at that time then I am closest to Heather. For if we know anything about heaven, it is where God is high and lifted up and the saints are celebrating more profoundly than we can imagine! And, for at least a few moments, we are in one accord.
What grace is given us all! What mysteries we so often miss in our rush to "move on?" How thankful I am for the Faith, for the gift of Jesus Christ, for "the hope once given" that is given still to those who will seek after Immanuel. Indeed, God is with us, even in the valley of suck...especially at Christmas.
Have mercy. Come Savior, come.
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