Christmas isn’t always a happy occasion. I didn’t know Christmas could bring such grief. All I knew was that by noon that Christmas day I wanted to be done with it all; put Christmas and the entire year behind me. It was the first and last Christmas that I had all my decorations put away by 3:00pm Christmas day. I was ready for a better year.
That was the year my mother died. That was the year my husband went through treatment for cancer. That was the year I miscarried our baby. That was the year I assumed the unwanted role of the matriarch of our family. That was the year of the greatest sadness for me, the year I wanted to forget. That was the year I lost my focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
That Christmas brought such pain, such grief, and such loss. I could hardly stand seeing everyone else enjoy the merriment of Christmas. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling-sadness, despair, anger-anything but joy.
I wouldn’t ever want to go through such despair again, but truly God does use all things and work them out for good. No pain is wasted. That year gave me a personal insight into the pain that so many others endure during what for most of the world is a happy holiday.
What a difference a year makes.
The Christmas following my year of great sadness, I still missed my mother, but God gave me fresh perspective. The year of the great sadness, my son was two years old, and largely unaware of Christmas aside from bright lights, decorations around the house, and a tree blocking his easy passage to the toy box.
The following Christmas, he was much more aware of every aspect of Christmas from the decorations to the gifts and most especially to the Biblical story of Christmas. I still missed my mother and my husband had not yet returned to full health, but my grief was fading and in its place I began to understand why Jesus said to “come as a little child.”
As my son increased in awareness and excitement of the most special holiday of the year, I began to notice how it was no effort for him to believe. He had complete faith that what we told him about the meaning of Christmas and Jesus’ birth was true. He never questioned it. And because he didn’t doubt, he was entirely present and filled with awe and wonder.
During the Christmas of the year of my great sadness, my focus was on myself…my pain, my grief, my loss. It was anywhere but on the reason for celebrating Christmas. Within a year, however, I came to a clearer understanding that God deserves our celebration every day, but especially for the gift He gave us on Christmas.
Our appreciation for that incredible gift shouldn’t be dimmed when life is hard and pain washes over us, threatening to take us under like a riptide. On the contrary, that is perhaps when we should most celebrate God’s incredible gift. It is because of that gift that we have hope! It is because of that gift that we have joy and can be merry.
It is my prayer for you, that if you are going through a difficult time, that you will ask God to increase your awareness of how His Christmas gift will meet whatever need you are currently facing.
Oh, Doc, I am so sorry, for that dreadful, dreadful Christmas you had to endure.
You give so much faith and hope, and you make such a difference to many lives (including mine, obviously). I am just so darned sorry you had to face that.
Your strength and resilience are a beacon. I hope you know that.
Thank you Andrew. It was a horrible experience – one I wouldn’t ever want to repeat. But God never wastes our pain. And if that experience can help me help others, it redeems what the enemy tried to steal. My heart’s desire is to help others have hope. I’m so grateful for readers like you! Stay tuned for breaking news after the holidays about a free webinar I’ll be offering to share more hope! 😉
I will be here, Doc. Count on it.
Glad to hear it Andrew! Make sure to let anyone else know who might benefit! I don’t want anyone to suffer alone! All the best to you!
Sorry for your loss. Sadness or depression is a problem for many during the Christmas season. I think it takes time for us to look up out of pain to see God’s face. A much needed post this time of year.
Thanks Mary. Many face lost of various types throughout the year – relationships, jobs, hopes & dreams, but the holidays and their emphasis on all that is happy can make what isn’t happy seem even worse for the grieving. I wouldn’t ever want to go through that time in my life again, but I am grateful for the compassion it gives me toward others, especially during a time of year when many don’t realize that many are suffering. I’m so glad you stopped by. Thanks for taking the time to comment! Love to hear from you. Christmas blessings to you!
Dr Michelle, Powerful words. Very transparent. I loved this: “Our appreciation for that incredible gift shouldn’t be dimmed when life is hard and pain washes over us, threatening to take us under like a riptide.” But rather we should embrace God’s gift even more. Love this so much. I lost my mother this year, but my heart is full with all of God’s many blessings on me.
Amy, I’m truly very sorry for your loss. I’m so glad you are able to see God’s goodness despite your pain. I pray you will feel His comfort this season as you embrace God’s greatest gift. Christmas blessings to you!
Michelle, thank you for sharing your self and your personal struggles. So many people struggle with sadness and depression during the holidays and feel alone in their despair. But we can rejoice because He has come to save the world!!
Oh how right you are Kathy! The key is definitely in continuing to rejoice because He has come to save the world! Keeping that perspective truly helps get through anything!
Such a great article….something to remember!! My mother lost her sister at Thanksgiving…a few years later her mother died on Christmas Eve…the following year her mother-in-law died the day after Christmas. This season is always bitter sweet because of those loses! Thank goodness for God’s peace and mercy.
Jamie, how difficult that must be for your mother, but what a wonderful opportunity for you to be an agent of God’s love and comfort to her. I’m so glad you know God’s good peace and mercy. What a life preserver that is for hard times!
Hi Michelle. Thanks much for this excellent post. I came across when preparing to do some teaching at my church on the subject of holiday grief. Smiled when I looked at your name and picture – we met at Allume conference two weeks ago. I introduced myself after Rob’s last workshop – Dr Cheryl Savageau. With permission, I’ll share your post at my seminar and provide your website.
Cheryl, what a delight to cross paths again, even if virtually. I’d be honored if this post will in some way help your readers. I have another one coming out in a week or so specifically about helping others through grief during the holidays. Merry Christmas to you Cheryl!
This is a good reminder for me as I enter in to a new era of my life, leaving one mixed with emotional pain as well as joy. It’s a message I can also share–such as with a young friend, fearful of financial woes in the new year and overwhelmed by painful childhood memories. Another friend and I prayed with her, then thanked her for sharing, encouraged her to focus on what God gave us on Christmas, and to trust His care and provision. We also encouraged her to not let her past define her future, but to focus on making new memories with her husband.
May you and your family richly enjoy dwelling on God’s incredible gift this Christmas, and make some wonderful memories this year based on that joy and hope!
Mary Lee, no matter what we have been through in our past or are going through presently, God has given us the reason for hope and joy that started with a gift wrapped in swaddled cloth in a manger and ended in swaddled cloth in a tomb. Without that gift we’d have nothing but because of Him, #HopePrevails!