I’ve had so much fun this year putting together Christmas posts in honor of my Mom. She gifted me with a host of happy memories surrounding the Christmas season.
As a child, I looked forward to Christmas every year. The decorations, early morning visits to the tree to see what “Santa” brought, laughter-filled table conversations, and a house full of family all roll together to form a beautiful collection of innocent childhood memories.
Back then ~ in those naïve years of childhood ~ I hadn’t experienced the realities of the hard things of life. I didn’t have a clue what grieving would be, or even what it meant.
Now I do.
So, now I understand why some people feel such sadness during the holiday season.
It might be for a variety of reasons, but grieving the loss of a loved one may be high on the list.
I get that.
This Christmas is my mom’s first one in heaven. She’s up there having a grand time (I’m sure!) with my dad, aunts and uncle, grandpas and grandmas, and so many other family members.
In the midst of all the joy of the season, there is a whiff of grieve as I remember the loss of those who are no longer with us…
So, for those of you who aren’t feeling this is “most wonderful time of the year”, I wanted to give to you a gift my husband gave to me.
He is a volunteer chaplain at our local hospice, and wrote the following article for a recent grief support meeting. It blessed my heart.
I pray that it will be a blessing to yours, too.
Twinkle Lights for a Grieving Soul
(written by @mrharbourbreeze)
I love Christmas lights. I was probably the first in town to put them up this year. My neighbors probably thought I was nuts, but oh well! Here on the coast, it seems like we need some sparkle and twinkle to brighten up the long evenings and dark mornings. It took a while, but eventually everyone else in town ‘copied’ me.
Twinkle Light Walks
One of my favourite memories from college happened just before the Christmas break one year. My good friend Matt and I were tired from a long day/week of finishing off papers and taking exams. However, we just weren’t tired enough to call it a day. So, we went out late in the evening and walked through the silent, snowy streets of our little college town.
The townspeople had really outdone themselves. The houses and yards were alive with twinkle lights and yard ornaments. The light snow that had been falling all day crunched slightly as we walked through the quiet streets. Somehow all the coloured twinkle lights against the backdrop of the snow and cold was so refreshing after staring at words and papers all week.
This evening my wife and I wandered around for a bit in our neighbourhood. There was no snow, but I was struck by the enjoyment I experienced in just seeing little coloured twinkle lights. Some houses were really decked out with the newest trends in moving stars and projected lights. Other lights were strung with ‘whimsey and abandon’. One house had a full rustic plywood cut-out of a nativity scene. It reminded my wife of her childhood church’s annual Christmas display.
Twinkle Light Themes
You may be wondering how this has anything to do with grieving. Well, I do have a point…. Let me explain: We hear a lot about hope, peace, joy and love at Christmas. Those are the main Advent themes and you see and hear in various ways during this season.
When we are really missing someone, it’s hard to think about having hope. What are we supposed to hope for? And peace…. How can I be peaceful when my world is upside down? Don’t even get me started with Joy! It seems almost wrong to experience joy at a time when the ol’ eyeballs are sore from leaking so many tears. Love is spoken of all around us but the love of our life is gone or the one who taught us all about love cannot love us any longer….
Perhaps a better way to think about these four words is to look for them like twinkle lights. Are there twinkles of hope, peace, joy, and love, that we can look for this Christmas?
A child telling their wishes to Santa Claus in the mall and we hear a twinkle of hope.
We gaze at the ocean on the rare day that the wind has died down and it’s calm….a twinkle of peace.
A parent or grandparent observes their child or grandchild sing or dance in their school Christmas program… there’s a little pride and a twinkle of joy.
The phone rings. It’s a friend calling to ‘check in’ on us. We realize that even tho they are awkward about it, they have called out of love. Do you get the picture?
Experience Christmas amidst grief ~ one twinkle light at a time…
It’s really easy to focus on all that we have lost and I, in no way want to minimize that. My wish for all of us is that in the darkness of our grief there will be little glimmers that shine through and then maybe, just maybe, we can stop to see the little twinkles of hope, peace, joy, and love that are all around us if we stop to notice. Our loss will still be painful and we still need to grieve ~ but we can have a minute or even a few seconds where the twinkle lights can give us a little cheer.
This season may you feel a little more hope, a little more peace, a little more joy and a whole lot more love, even in the middle of your grief.
Merry Christmas, from our home to yours.