Where are you Christmas? Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away?
You know, it’s funny. When this song first came out in the year 2000, I did not yet fully comprehend the extent to which it would one day play in my head on constant repeat during yuletide. I had already lost my father, daddy, when I was eight in 1991. So, holidays had been hard for a long time at that point. But now, more than twenty years later, I find myself appreciating the sentiment more than ever.
This year will mark nine years without my dad, my step-dad that is. He did earn the title, though, through all the “fun” teenage years and testing I put him through. He had been in my life for two-thirds of it at the time he died, having left an indelible mark. For good. There is no doubt. And in 2013 he woke up on Christmas morning, healed from his dementia, he finally got to meet both Jesus and Santa Claus (he really loved Santa). I mean, come on. Best Christmas Ever for him.
This will also be my third Christmas without my amazing husband Brad.
Yesterday a snowstorm hit our area. Brad always loved snowstorms. He was like a kid in a candy store – giddy and boisterous. Even before the boys arrived on the scene, he would just go outside and play. I have so many memories of him in the snow. And yesterday’s storm hit me like a sucker punch to the gut. I could barely move. Even earlier today I was still having trouble breathing.
Most days it’s not like that. Most days are so much better now, two years and two months in.
Maybe it is that this is the first year “back to normal” after the pandemic, when all of the traditions can finally be resurrected – except my smiling baby isn’t here beside me. Doing all the stuff and the things. Like we always did. For almost half my life.
And yet, there is this odd battle happening in my heart, because just as it feels like it is completely rent asunder, I look at our twin munchkins who are waking up to the magic of Christmas, largely for the first time that they will remember. It is truly awe-inspiring and I see this world full of wonder. I see Brad in them. And my dad. And my daddy. And my mom. And their mimi (Brad’s mom). And so many other family members who are celebrating with us from another shore. So much that is carrying on through them.
I think what I am finding this season is that it is not just about creating magic, but also willingly seeking it and opening ourselves up to it. Sitting with it and letting it gently press back into our hearts even for mere glancing moments until we are ready for more.
My hope for all of us who are hurting and having trouble feeling that “spirit” as songs are constantly jangling from the speakers right now, I hope that one day we will find that much of the season is filled with the overwhelming feeling of utter joy and wonderment that we once had. But if not, then I hope we will find the respite of the far greater classic that many of us save for the holy night itself and trust in its promise: sleep in heavenly peace.