Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The bittersweet joy of Christmas

 





Christmas is a time of celebrations.
of Lights
of Shopping and wrapping
of Christmas carols
or Parties with family and friends.

As we prepare for these events with shopping, decorations, wrapping and baking, many of us experience sadness as well. It is what I call the bitterseet joy of Christmas because as we gather with friends and family, we are painfully aware of our loved ones who are no longer with us. The empty spaces in our circle.

The other day I ran out to pick up some coffee for my husband and a sweater for my daughter, I was reminded of the many shopping trips that I had made with my Mother while we were getting ready for the Christmas holidays. It was just a little wave of sadness. I put the packages in the truck of my car and headed back torward the the interstate, unstoppable tears ran down my cheeks. My friends already know that I almost never cry. I turned up the radio, but it made no difference, the tears kept kept falling.

If someone else was writing this story, it would end with my Christmas spirit being restored by an encouter with an angelic baby, a Christmas choir or a beautiful sunset. None of these things happened.

As I have done in the past, I continued to make the preparations for Christmas. I do this with little variation every year. I love Advent, the time of preparation that is both physical and spiritual. Each day facing the challenges and acknowledging the blessings.

Today is Christmas Eve and I had a wonderful day with my family. We went to Mast General Store and then had lunch at Long's Drugstore. We are so lucky to have a drugstore with a soda fountain. A quick stop at Blue Ridge and then skating at the Ice Chalet. I am truly blessed.

When I looked at facebook, I saw that someone very dear had shared the excitement of her daughter opening her new Kindle in a video. I know that four young teens are going to have something under the tree this Christmas. I was touched by a post from a Gold Star mother reaching out to the wife of a Wounded Warrior. A longtime friend shared the good news that he has accomplished a lifetime dream, Leave No Paws Behind reached their emergency fundraising goal with $1,000 to spare, thanks to an anonymous Santa and I was surprised by especially thoughtful gestures by my daughter and my husband.  I asked for help finding photos of churches in Greene County and schools in Knox County and I have been blessed with many contributions. I am blessed to have my family at home for Christmas.

Tomorrow, we will gather to exchange gifts, share stories and pictures. We will have a big dinner and eat lots of dessert. We will miss those who are no longer with us and cherish those are with us today.




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