Christmas – the most joyous time of the year. There has always been an ‘ air and feel’ of Christmas … a sort of an expectancy. Everyone rushing around, occupying themselves mostly with externals … but deep down .. that feeling of waiting, yearning for the 24th night… that most special night in history when God became man; nay – God became a naked little babe in a cattle shed, born ‘illegitimately’ by worldly standards to a young Jewish girl – with her betrothed husband at her side.
With such a beautiful event to celebrate, Christmas has always been very special. Granted, as kids, it was mostly the joy of new clothes and of gifts galore – first from Santa, then our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents. We would return home on Christmas night with the car trunk laden with our gifts.
As we grew older, Christmas became more than gifts and Santa. Carol services, decorating, baking, inviting friends over – all became part of the Christmas traditions. As we matured, these were replaced by activities more closely linked to spiritual traditions – advent wreaths, church decorations, Sunday School Nativity plays, charity project church fellowship and of course through all of these family family family!! Family was there in the thick of it – especially my Mum and twin sister .👩👧👧
And now … Mum is not with us this Christmas. She moved on in June to be in the embrace of her Maker … leaving us with a huge vacuum. A vacuum that I am finding hard to fill, to face, to accept.
It was a bit too much to face, so without discussion, since Queen Bee’s name would not be there, we automatically dropped the Kris Kindle ritual this year. We dropped a lot of other things too including Advent wreath, decorations and carols. Covid too did its part to put, for us at least, a welcome spoke in festivities.
Still, the spirit of Christmas past comes back – like it did to Scrooge – but for me the memories hurt. Fun, laughter that we shared; midnight mass on the same pew, breakfast together, the extra touches Mum put on the table, the family dinner and the joy and mystery of distributing Kris Kindle … somehow everyone seemed to draw an extra name for Nans!! And no one knew how that happened. No, we knew. everyone wanted to give Nans something. After Dad died, she became the sole Elder, the Queen Bee whom all the grand children migrated to with their woes and troubles. She was their confidante, advisor and friend.
And now Christmas is upon us. The night we used to wait for with bated breath is almost here. I really cannot believe it is Wednesday the 23rd!!! Where is my Christmas spirit ?
At the urging of a childhood friend Felicia (who went through a similar grief a few years ago just before Christmas) I forced myself to put up a tree on the 21st when the thought struck me that Mum will be with the heavenly choirs – and with Dad – proclaiming the Birth of our Lord. And she would want us to join in singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo. It is His birth we are celebrating.
So I forced myself to play some carols today. And as I forced myself to listen – and as the tears started .. . I started to pen my thoughts.
I am forcing myself to feel joy externally – to find joy in the traditions that have come to epitomise Christmas, and trying to find joy in the message of Christmas. Rejoice and be glad for this day is born to you the Saviour of the World. I do rejoice and am glad … but I am definitely not merry or joyful. And that was troubling me because I thought I ought to be.
But then I remembered that I do not have to put on a show for myself … to force the Spirit of Christmas for that Babe – for that same Babe came:
…”to bring the good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…” Luke 4.18.
I had read that verse so many times before. I love the image of Jesus picking up the scroll in the temple in his first pubic appearance – but I was never broken-hearted before and that news passed over my head. Today that spoke to me. The Good News is that I don’t have to force myself to fill up the vacuum. I can feel broken-hearted and empty. I can grieve and be bruised in my grief … knowing that there is a promise and an answer. I have to wait in patience with the sure hope that the Christ Child will fill up this vacuum with His Love .. His mercy, and His compassion. He has promised us this.
So many people are broken-hearted this year having lost family to Covid as well as to age, and so many are separated from family at this time of family love.
May the blessings of this holy season fill all of us with His peace and love. … and may health return to the planet and its people. ☮️ 💟🙏