During the holidays, joy, love, gratitude, and faith spill over. It’s also a time when tears spill over, mingling sorrow with our joy. An older man once told me that in the Bible suffering and joy always walk hand in hand.
The older I get, the more I understand this.
I first experienced Christmas sorrow as a young girl when I found my Mom crying quietly in a corner. Enthralled with the treats, lights, decoration, and PRESENTS, I couldn’t imagine any reason to cry during the whole month of December. Our Christmases were magical, with Mom and Dad’s wonderful fingers baking, crafting, decorating, shopping, and wrapping.
She explained that she missed her parents. Her Dad was aging quickly; years of working outdoor construction in North Dakota and having arthritis had turned her strapping father into a frail man tucked inside a woolen blanket.
I’ve always been thankful she shared her feelings because I carried that understanding to adulthood. Years later, I was sitting in my kitchen alone, listening to the bustle of my lively bunch of kids, but quietly crying because I missed my parents and my siblings. I fully understood my Mom’s heart.
Christmas tears come for a variety of reasons.
We cry for those that have passed on and will never celebrate with us again.
We cry for those that live too far away to join us.
We cry because broken relationships have shattered our hearts.
The pain can be so deep we may not even want to celebrate. Christians must cling to this reality – we aren’t celebrating a holiday, we’re celebrating a PERSON. The name Immanuel means “God with us.” God doesn’t always take our pain away, He is with us in our pain.
He is daily our Ever-present Help, our Shield, Defender, Fortress, Rock, Redeemer, Good Shepherd. His Names are as infinite as His love, grace, and mercy.
If you’re celebrating this holiday season with tears, let them be tears of faith and surrender to the One who is working out everything in your life for good. Romans 8:28 is not a pat answer, it’s a solid promise.
This Christmas, I will shed a few tears for our adventurous son, Daniel, in Bolivia, who, manlike, won’t be shedding any tears for me. And because of the lack of technology available, won’t be able to be in touch.
I’ve already shed a few tears for child #7 lost to miscarriage four years ago, who would have been tearing into packages, eating too many cookies, and sitting on everyone’s lap.
I will shed a few tears for our daughter and her two little ones who recently moved to California and are celebrating their first Christmas alone.
I wonder if Christmas tears will be a part of her holidays.
2014 Christmas Tears Update:
This year I added the image above made from a picture of an ornament on my Uncle Huck’s Christmas tree when he was celebrating his first Christmas without his beautiful bride of over fifty years, Aunt Jan. We also lost our dear Gramma Florence. Gramma was a crafter and I remember her showing me how to make these adorable felt ornaments as a child.
Two of our children will be celebrating with their families far away and my parents will be basking in the Arizona sun. A few tears will mingle during our joyous celebration.
2020 Christmas Tears Update:
How can anyone put into words what we experienced this year with a world-wide pandemic? The year will be eternally symbolized by toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
To those of you wake up alone, unable to celebrate the holidays with friends and families because of Covid 19 restrictions, I wish you the blessings of memories and conversations to warm your heart.
It’s been a harsh year for our family. My husband lost his job and his little brother. My mom broke her hip and my dad wasn’t allowed in the hospital as she recovered. A dear friend lost her dad and grandma. Several family members suffered crushing blows and we weren’t able to travel to be with them.
But my family isn’t alone in our suffering. Many have loved ones who died alone in a sterile, cold hospital room and funerals have been near impossible. People had to quit their jobs to homeschool their kids. Many are struggling to pay rent and buy groceries. The year has stretched us to the point of snapping.
But, remember that suffering and joy walk hand-in-hand?
We’ve all experienced blessings this year, even though sometimes they feel buried beneath the pain. It’s time to wiggle them out and celebrate them.
Social media and phones have kept us in touch with loved ones. Employees learned to work from home. Facebook groups, such as Buy Nothing Project and local classified ads, are busy all day long giving away food, clothes, furniture, toys, and household items. We learned to smile with our eyes and elbow bump. We tried new recipes and hobbies, played games, and put together puzzles. We’ve gone so casual with our grooming, jammies and sweats have become our uniform.
The world has adapted to a new normal, albeit kicking and screaming, but we need to celebrate that.
And as we anxiously wait to kick 2020 to the curb we have hope. A fingers-crossed kind of hope, but it’s still hope.
I wish I could promise you that 2021 will be a great one, but I can’t.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.Isaiah 41:10
I can promise you don’t have to be alone.