When Holiday Home Isn’t Merry

It is hard to believe five years have passed since the post I'm sharing today first went live. It is easy to stay in a Fa-la-la-ing mindset in a season like Christmas... yet it is equally easy to feel defunct in some measure if a celebratory way of thinking is NOT what fills your home this year.

I've come a long way since the post below first broadcast. However, after Christmastime 2018, I have learned to muster and find strength - to disallow the despair to take hold. I will be honest and share how not all challenges from then have completely resolved, and new ones have shown up to seek a siphoning of our joy.

I believe I am not alone.

And as much as I want to dance the the glitz and joy this season so willingly brings, I also don't want to miss the heart that is hurting as this month pushes good tidings and a new year dawns.

Whether you are facing empty nest through stages.... or an empty chair through loss... or joblessness, financial struggles, interpersonal struggles, and the plethora of other challenges which have no regard for Yuletide when they arrive - this post hopes to encourage hope and a heart to see the light which Christmas brings, even and especially if darkness looms....

Monday, December 3, 2018

As December dawns and the chug of the Christmas engine seems to pick up speed, I look at my lists and to-dos and remember the traditions and practices of years past.  Yes, you have seen me promote how keeping track of your yearly holiday plans can become a reference point aiding in greater efficiency as time goes by..  But what happens when looking back stirs emotions almost too deep to bear?

The last few years have held the hardest Christmas season years in my life.  Even harder than the year we lost my mom 1 month before holiday celebrations set in motion.

  • My kids aren't "kids" anymore. 
  • An engagement break-up weeks before the New Year's Eve wedding.
  • An adult child who opted to spend a few of the Christmases with people other than us.
  • Favored traditions falling by the way-side.

In the midst of this growing and hurting, I sat in front of my computer screen one Christmas Eve, Facebook chatting with an old friend.  I never saw myself FB chatting on Christmas Eve before, but there we were, crying across the miles together at what Christmas was becoming with babies no longer babies anymore.

Younger moms out there: hold those babies close.  Treasure each beautiful tradition.  Read that same story for the 100th time.  And don't loose hope; these truly are golden years, even when Sally won't shut her eyes and go to bed or Billy begs for just one more hug!

Older moms: You are not alone.  The more I talk with other parents of late-teen and adult age "kids" the more I actually find peace.  Most kids go through a stage of groaning and stretching.  Some, sadly, flat out wander off while we are stuck just watching them fumble through darkness and brambles, our hearts aching and begging them to take the easier path.

But this is their time.  Their stories.  Their opportunity to learn even the hard and tough lessons in some of the most difficult ways.

Ours... ours is to be there, like the prodigal son's father.  We give them the world and then set them free.  We leave them their choices and wait for their return. When the day comes, whether months or years down the road, and we see them walking towards us again... we can run to them and embrace them with love and grace.

My mom came to Christ a few years before I did.  My grandmother was a fire and brimstone Southern Baptist and I didn't like the taste of her hard handed 'testimony'.  But my mom, gentle and patient and peaceful, a stance that truly was never her character with me and my unruliness before, was truly a prodigal mother.  She gave me the world and let me go.  I wandered.  I said mean and hurtful things.  I ignored her.  I hurt her.

But then, one day, I quit fighting.  I quit wandering and turned around.  I spoke softly and asked genuine questions.  I noticed her, and our relationship began to heal.  She stood, waiting, and, I am certain, crying.  But she Trusted and hoped and, before long, I went to her and she ran to greet me on the path, celebrating my return.

I owe a lot to her and how obedient she was to God's Word.  Through her, God showed me what strength and grace was.  I am grateful for the space she gave me, even though I mucked up quite a bit in that span.  We are never too far from grace when the time comes.

So, in our holiday homes this Christmas, even if you have a loved one who is running the wrong direction and making your heart hurt as you remember what was and isn't anymore, be strong.  Stay firm where you are in Christ, seeking to show hospitality and love to those who ARE still around you.  I think we can get so wrapped up in what we don't have anymore and what we miss, that we overlook what we DO have and all the new ways God may be calling us to share or spend the holiday cheer.

  • That lonely neighbor we could invite in
  • The children's shelter we could donate time and resources to
  • The goodies we can make and share with the community 
  • A nursing home elder who would delight in companionship
  • A cancer ward patient who might welcome being read to

The list could go on.  Simply put: let Christmas, with or without the void of a child or family member struggling, become the catalyst to new life you can walk forward in year round, sharing hope and grace and peace with those who are just waiting for it.  Christ doesn't call us to trust and be strong after the storm is over... nope.  He calls us right smack-dab in the middle of it and he gives us the strength we need when we trust Him for it... especially in a season filled, at every turn, with reminders of His great Love and grace!

Most of all, trust... the money will be spent and the experiences will take their toll and one day, your dear one will come back.  Remember, they are watching you.  They may not act like it - but they ARE.  They will see your love for others, your warmth, your grace.  They will miss your affection and remember that home is always home.  Be ready to run and greet them on the path, with open arms and a heart full of grace, but don't stop living NOW.

Put a candle in the window for those who wander.  Pray they see the Light in the Darkness, whether by your holiday home or someone else's, and that they will bow their hearts this season to be renewed in hope.

Do you have hard holiday memories you are working through this season?  I pray you will find strength in letting go and allowing God to light up your heart and your home in spite of it all.  If you don't have this struggle, can I encourage you to pray for God to show you someone in your life who might need to see that Light in the darkness.  Someone whom you and your Holiday home could be the vessel God may want to pour that Light through to reach? 

Merry Christmas Blessings,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *