For the past many years, December has been a bittersweet time for me.
On one hand, I love nearly everything about the Christmas season. I love carols and glistening decorations, receiving cards and greetings, buying gifts.
I’ll be in Rapid City again this year, and my Las Vegas family will be back, too. So I’m anticipating.
Last year, I was in Rapid also, but I wasn’t quite as recuperated as I’d like to have been following my hip surgery. We’d spent the day at the kids’ dad’s place…but I bowed out from going on to my daughter-in-law’s family gathering. By then I just longed for a little unwinding time.
So Heidi’s son and I spent time watching TV, and I watched him play Wii. It was a full enough day. This year, I expect to be up and running.
Each year seems to bring some happening or saying to laugh at or treasure: I received a picture of Ty and Brooke riding in a sleigh pulled by two reindeer. Brooke asked the driver where the reindeer came from and the woman said that they were actually born at the North Pole. She told Brooke it was her dad’s dream to own reindeer and give children sleigh rides. Brooke replied, “His dream came true.” Then she added, “I told Santa the wrong thing, now I know what I really want (a real reindeer).”
But also each year, I need to work through a period of sadness before I can move on to the “big picture” of Christmas.
Our baby Shawn was born and then died one December 9. Over the years, I’ve finally managed to get past that date without having a total meltdown, but I never forget.
My mom became ill at our home in Rapid City one Christmas day. I can recall every sentence we had before she became so terribly ill Christmas morning with a kidney stone, which eventually led to blood poisoning. I’d taken my daughter to the church to sing, and when I came home, Mom was in excruciating pain. My Christmas day was spent in the hospital waiting room.
That first day was touch-and-go. Then it was up and down for weeks, and she languished until her death on February 1.
So I find I have to go through those remembrances before I can move on each year to a better, happier frame of mind.
I’ll never be able to “forget” those memories completely, and I don’t “conjure” them up –they just come, and I have to deal with them.
But over the years, I’ve come to realize that if we BELIEVE what we profess—that those I loved so much are still around and they’re waiting for me to join them—life makes much more sense. After all, what is the purpose of going to church for Christmas Eve services if we don’t believe?
So I believe. Jesus came to save the world and offer life everlasting. My two December people bring it home to me. I still miss; but I trust that the promise of that first Christmas carries on. So I carry on with faith that there’s better to come.
To everyone, have a blessed, memorable Christmas.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep…