Saturday, December 15, 2012

I doubt many who read this post are feeling very "Christmassy" right now. How is it possible to feel what the carols declare- "It's the most wonderful time of the year"? There are families of 28 people who are taking steps put into the horrific world of grief. While I myself have never had to cope with tragic loss, I suspect that it is a depth of despair all of its own. The permanency and finality of death is quick, fierce and without warning in tragic loss. Allan and I often remark about how grateful we are that we were allowed some time to prepare and wrap our heads around the fact that our children were never going to get well. As if somehow that makes it all OK, right?

While I don't know much about tragedy, I know quite a bit about not feeling "Christmassy". The feelings of my youth and early adulthood of joyful anticipation that can't be helped when the downbeat of your favorite carol is heard is gone. The fa la la ing while we bust open the box of decorations after a year of being stored in the basement is tempered at best.

For me, those beats and decorations are a key to the lock box on the depth of my emotion. Bringing up those boxes, lights and setting up the play list are actions I take, each year, with the hope that I can find that frolicsome, exuberant joy I last felt 10 Christmases ago. It doesn't come. We trim the tree, deck the halls and blare the music- with an attempt to have fun (which we seriously do do). What doesn't come is that depth of joy that is in my soul. While I sing and try to "Rock Around the Christmas Tree" with my Bugs and husband, my blinders on, my head is down and my heart is braced. I hand out decorations for the tree and choose not to tell stories about how the ornament came to our home and to our tree. Most of our ornaments illustrate a gap in time. Here are the ones from my youth. Here are the ones when we got married. Oh look these came as a gift for Eric, and these came in his memory. These are for our surviving bugs. Oh wait, here are the ones for Ava and in her memory. It's just plain hard.

Emily and Alexa were 6 weeks old for their first Christmas. Allan would hold up each crying and squirming baby and say, "It's Christmastime, you have to be jolly." We've told each of our children the same thing every year while they are crying or arguing. As you can well imagine, this annoys them. (We hope it will provide a fun memory in their adulthood, however.)

You know what? I've discovered that you don't really have to be "jolly" at all. (Don't tell the Bugs, PLEASE). You can celebrate, decorate, dance in the kitchen and see the beauty in the twinkling lights. You can experience the wonder in the eyes of the children. You will always have to delete names off the Christmas list, remember those gone on. You will always have something in the season that reminds you of the time when your loved one was with you. That's just part of living.

For me as much as Christmas is a tough "time of year" and it's smells and decorations open up a flood of  memories I would just a soon not have to have, I have to celebrate. I have to step into our traditions and merry making no matter how dampened my soul feels.


Mary was greeted by an angel and was told she was to deliver the Son of God. This child is the reason that I can get out of bed everyday. This child is why I keep pressing on when I just can't take the overwhelming grief. This child is why there is anticipation in the Christmas season. This child is why there is hope in our future.

I doubt we will ever ever understand the  "whys?" and "how could God allow that to happens?" that we LOVE LOVE LOVE to wonder about. God does love and protect us. I know because I am living proof of being two seconds from the edge of the cliff. I also know that there is evil in the world. It was unleashed with that bite into that apple. There are people who have suffered such trauma and torment in their lives- whether at the hands of others or with struggles with mental health- who are so far removed from humanity that they can't, won't hear God.

Don't you think that when those shots were fired, God cried too? He doesn't want this for us. He is the only one that can ease the pain of death. How do I know? Because He does for me, daily.

It is OK to be happy and have a nice time when others are suffering. It is OK to pray for those whom you feel need it while you are enjoying your family. It is OK to not feel appropriately "Chistmassy" as those sleigh bells and jingle bells dictate. And while I have been there and tend to hover there, I do have joy and fun in the season and feel "Christmassy" in the eager expectation that God has all of our lives in His hands.

If you are looking for a way to help the families in Newtown, CT and those that you know suffer sadness, why don't you simply ask God be with them? Ask God to be with you and show you how you can influence one life in a positive way, in a way that He wants you to? If you have never tried and are wondering if it is worth it, I can assure you it never hurts to ask, and patiently listen for the answer.