In our society we mark “firsts” in a special way. A baby’s first steps, his first words, the first date, the first time we drive a car, etc. These are milestones in our lives, and they hold a special place in our memories. They are celebratory!
The first year after a loved one passes is also full of firsts.
Last year my dad passed away right before Christmas. In reality, last Christmas was our first without dad, but I think we were still in such shock over his passing; we simply got through the holiday feeling numb. It didn’t hit us until all the decorations had been put away that we had just had a huge loss. The grieving process then began.
This year we have hit all the “first” milestones, and have grieved a little at each celebration, missing his presence. The first Father’s Day, his birthday, and now here we are preparing ourselves for Christmas. The sting of not having dad around is hitting my mom and me much harder this year. The kids had a hard time when we came across papa’s Christmas stocking. Should we hang it beside grandma’s, like we have every year? –Or would that be “weird”?
Dad loved Christmas. Each time I hear a Christmas carol sung by Andy Williams, Dean Martin, or Frank Sinatra– I think of my dad. I think about the family sitting beside our record player, one of his most prized possessions, listening to Christmas records for hours! At Christmastime I think about the fake flocking that my dad, like so many of us silly Californians, used to spray on the windows to emulate a “white Christmas”(…and unfortunately the stuff would never come off completely, so it looked as though we had a little fake snow around the window panes even during July!) I remember the Barbie Dream house and so many other toys that he spent hours putting together in the garage on Christmas Eve, so they’d be displayed under the tree as I awoke Christmas morning. As a teenager, I remember attending midnight Mass with dad; “O Come All Ye Faithful” was sung as the clock struck 12 midnight. Jesus was born!!
We are faithful believers in Jesus, so this has nothing to do with wondering “where” dad is. We know he’s home! But, on a very personal note, he is still much missed, here.
This blog isn’t written to bum-out anyone. Rather, I hope to encourage those of us who have had a recent loss. It is through the Christmas story that our salvation plan starts. With that sweet little baby who is humbly lying in the straw of that stable, God has given us the gift of life eternal, with Him. As an added “gift”, we also look forward to spending eternity with our loved ones. No more tears. No more pain.
This truth really is celebratory!!
This year we decided to hang papa’s stocking on the mantle, like we always have. It has become more of a statement of “who’s in our family”. And even though he’s now living in Heaven, my kids know that papa is still part of our family. We joyfully look forward to being with each other again, one day!
Are you going through a personal grieving process this Christmas? How have you found strength and comfort during this Christmas season?
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.