I was excited to listen to a Christmas CD I just received and popped it in the player to set a festive and worshipful mood for my work. Rob was outside in “Santa’s workshop.” The happy “trappings and trimmings” of preparing for a full house at Christmas were all around me. I love Christmas — all of it!
Suddenly, waves of raw emotion crashed my world without warning or fanfare. One minute I’m sweeping up needles, wrapping presents and arranging holly. The next I’m choked up with tears that won’t flow. Enveloped by a menagerie of sentiments and feelings I can’t identify, much less express. My soul is instantly weary.
I notice the CD player (despite greeting me with “hello”) never started playing… I curl up on the sofa with whatever devotionals my email and facebook offer me. Searching the Bible seems like too much. The joy of a beautiful Sunday is suddenly sucked out of me.
When Rob comes in, I first think it’s something he said earlier that has me upset… as we talk, it becomes obvious that’s not “the thing.” Rob is patient to let me talk my way to discovering what I am feeling.
It’s not one thing… more just that the floodgates can’t contain the emotions surrounding all the change in my life. Consequently, this Christmas has taken a life of its own in my head. I finally acknowledge this as a Christmas of major changes. Of “last times.” Of new territory. A Christmas to find courage to prepare for all that’s ahead — joys and sorrows.
Sigh. And I was so determined to joyfully just accept change and grow old with enviable grace. Seems I can’t just wish it into being. Like many seasons before it, it will be a process of reflection and work. Surrender and trust.
You know how people typically ask about your holiday plans as part of their greeting at Christmas? Well, I’ve been excitedly telling them, “I’ll have all my children home! And Mom and Dad will be here.” Then adding with mixed emotions and a forced smile — “maybe for the last time, at least for a while.”
I redouble my Christmas planning and efforts… I want this to be a Christmas every one cherishes. What mom hasn’t gone overboard, trying to make the holiday extra special for one reason or the other?
We’ve added 2 more stockings to the mantel. In 2016 my boys will each marry a beautiful bride. It’s wonderful and exciting. But at the same time, it’s the end of an age. It’s the last time this Mama will have all my little babies waking up under my roof on Christmas morning. It’s akin to other milestones like the first day of school or a college graduation (we had another one of those last week too).
I’ve long known new families were starting and adult lives were budding — but graduations and “last times” punctuate and define what we already know to be true. They make it all real. Forever more, just as I’m gaining daughters, I’ll be sharing my sons. At times the house will be more full than ever. But I also recognize I’ll need to master the art of facetime connections as our family grows and spreads out. As generations shift.
Change is a constant throughout all our lives. In our youth and younger adult years, adaptation often involves growth, excitement and abundance. Midlife moms are blessed to participate in our adult children’s bounty. But oftentimes we add to that the uncertainty that comes with loving our aging parents. I’m blessed to still have both my mom and dad.
Granny used to say, “Old age isn’t for sissies.” As our parents live out their “golden years,” it seems that many inevitable life alterations are of a limiting nature.
I’m flooded with so many fond childhood memories –Mom and Dad started a wonderful Christmas Eve Chile Party tradition when my sisters and I were young adults coming home for Christmas. Of waking up to a delicious quail breakfast Christmas morning and huge extended family gatherings at Granny’s on Christmas night. Those days are over.
My mom and dad have already faced many holiday changes in adapting to the lives and schedules of their children. This year they will leave their quiet house to be with us for Christmas dinner. I want to make things special like Mama always did. I want them to feel so loved and joyful this Christmas…
Other friends and family come to mind. Imposed solitude, peace and quiet can feel a lot like lonely (click for post) to anyone. I’m heart-broken for all those who don’t anticipate this Christmas with childlike wonder — for whatever reason.
The ornaments, traditions and gatherings trigger memories that span a lifetime. They spawn other recollections… the good bring warmth and joy, but sometimes also melancholy with them. No one escapes pain entirely — and those impressions often yell louder than the sweet ones.
Aging parents, weddings, jobs, babies, holiday work shifts — all can disrupt. Midlife moms like me know both the joy of anticipation (will there soon be little ones on Christmas again?) and the ache of silently wondering which dining chairs will be empty next year. I’m so grateful for all who will be with us this Christmas and feel the pressure of wanting our celebration to be extra special — again this year.
But how? I’m better this morning, but have the remaining edge of yesterday’s funk. I made coffee in the Keurig, BEFORE situating a Christmas mug to contain it. I haven’t figured out our Christmas Eve dinner plan. My shopping isn’t done. And I’m out of ideas. I haven’t baked a thing and wonder if I will. The beds aren’t fresh and I’m running out of time and energy!
Then I happened on this verse and God grabbed my attention —
“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
The answer is right there in the manger scenes scattered throughout my home. God — through Jesus — offers hope that heals, energizes and transforms us. He came for the sick. The broken-hearted. He came for you and me —
I know what I need to feel refreshed. I’m going now to hide away with God. My CD player may not always cooperate, but nothing can stop me from praising Him with everything I have left in me. His mercies will fail not — and I have full hope that He will give me all I need to celebrate my changing family and the birth of the Christ child with grace and thanksgiving.
Merry Christmas! May your heart be full with Him.
Addendum: the playlist I worshipped through had some great lyrics copied below about the One who never changes. God is so GOOD!
“Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”
“Great is thy Faithfulness, O God my Father,/ There is no shadow of turning with Thee/ Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not/ As Thou hast been Thou forever will be… Morning by morning new mercies I see/ All I have needed thy hand hath provided –/ Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
How great thou art! How great thou art.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee:
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then *I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim,
My God, how great thou art!”
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born”
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
- Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
- The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
- Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.”
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room…”