As the holidays approach, are you finding joy or sadness in this time of the year? I ask because I was reminded recently that while I have a spirit of Thanksgiving and a joyful heart filled with excitement and Christmas cheer, the holidays are often hard for others. They, unfortunately, are a sad reminder of family that has gone their separate ways or of loved ones that have passed on and are no longer here to join in on the celebration and festivities that were once a welcomed time in their lives. When once they looked forward to the holidays, they now dread it and wish it to hurry past so we can move on into the new year.
I do understand heartache and pain. I understand the loss of cherished loved ones and the pain that is left behind. I understand full well about the emptiness that can be felt at this time of year and of the traditions of past that are now no more. I can sympathize with you. I have several of my beloved family members that are in Heaven celebrating with Jesus this holiday season. I lost my grandmother in March of this year, and prior to that, I lost my sister and Granddaddy. While it has been several years since their passing, it does not mean that the pain of our separation is non existent. No, I still feel the sting of not having them here with me at this time … a time of Thanksgiving that was once filled with their laughter around the table, their stories of days gone by, their memories … they are all a part of MY treasured memories now.
Oh what I wouldn’t give to see them one more time, to have everyone gathered around the table with heads bowed, holding hands as we blessed the food and asked for God’s ultimate hand of protection to be over all of our family during the holiday season and for all time. Oh to see their faces light up again as they are given a Christmas present while gathered around the tree, to see their excitement as they open the gift and to see the expression of gratitude and thankfulness on their faces as they appreciated each and every gift given to them, no matter how big or how small.
You see, my holidays are filled with longing, too, but I am choosing NOT to wallow in “what could have been” … “what should be” … “oh why aren’t they here” … “lost traditions” … I could go on and on, but … I choose to reminisce about times we DID have together, all of the memories we made when they were here on this earth … all of the precious times we greeted each other at the door upon their arrival with hugs, beautiful hugs! It would feel wonderful to be able to hug my loved ones just one more time, to spend just one more day with them, one more hour, one more minute … just one more any thing with them. But, just as the song by Diamond Rio says, “It would leave me wishing still for one more day with you …”
While I don’t have my sister, Grandma or Granddaddy here with me physically any longer, they are FOREVER in my heart. I carry them with me each and every day. There are reminders of them every where I turn, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I save messages on my answering machine because I’m so afraid of losing yet another loved one and never hearing their voices again! I have messages saved from my grandmother, and oh how I treasure and cherish hearing her voice any time I want to now with just a press of a button on my machine. I have her with me in my heart, in my soul, in every fiber of my being, just as I have my sister and Granddaddy … I do not, however, have their voices to play back as I wish I had. Occasionally I will find an old video of my daughter as a baby and be granted the gift of seeing and hearing my sister once again as she holds and cradles my daughter, looking down into her precious little face so lovingly. Those are memories ingrained into my being, and yet tears fill my eyes when I find these precious moments on the video – to remember what it felt like having her there, hearing her laughter, I get the gift of hearing it once more on those videos. I get the gift of seeing my granddaddy in old pictures laughing, smiling, and being healthy!
So you see, my heart aches just like yours does! I hurt, too! Hear me – I HURT, TOO!
This holiday season I still have other family members that will surround me on this day, and I live for those people. I get the honor and privilege of sharing the holidays with my two beautiful girls, my parents, and my husband! I smile. I join in on the laughter around the table. I hold their hands tightly in my own as we say the blessing. I choose to be happy, all while holding those loved ones that have gone on to Heaven close to my heart! I know that our loved ones are looking down upon us in Heaven with love, such love, for us all.
Having a good time with the family that IS with you physically is not dishonoring to our loved ones that have passed on or their memories … they wouldn’t want us sitting around sad and gloomy on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any time for that matter. They want us to be happy and enjoy, to celebrate, to live life to the fullest.
Can you sit around and mope all throughout the holidays and wish them away? Sure you can! You have that right. However, it will be miserable doing that – for yourself and any one else that is around you during this time of year. Happiness comes from within. It is a choice. If you are choosing to be sad this time of year, that is your choice. I am choosing to find happiness and joy in the season with the family that is still here with me. I am choosing to make memories with them that they will look back on fondly and with love. I still feel the feelings that rush in from time to time, and I will be true to myself and allow those feelings to come. I will NOT, however, crawl into a hole or into a fetal position and cry throughout the entire holiday season. I will NOT wish it away. I will, instead, embrace it! It’s here!!! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day!! In less than a month, it will be Christmas!! Then ushering in a new year! It IS a time for celebration.
I encourage you to do something to honor and pay tribute to your loved ones this holiday season. Whatever you do – whether it be taking fresh flowers to their grave, baking cookies which was a tradition of this precious loved one, lighting a candle and saying a prayer, playing their favorite song, having their favorite meal, or releasing balloons or butterflies – DO something to honor and celebrate them. They are there with you. I promise you … more than you even realize. They are there … and they love you!
Here’s to hoping that you can find holiday joy!