Friday, December 19, 2014

the old Christmas trail

This post, by Donna Boucher (a blogger and photographer I love) set my mind near an old familiar trail. I took this trail every Christmas for too many years.

It started the year my mother died, 1979. Bill and I drove to Memphis to spend Christmas with my dad and siblings. Though we went through the motions of roast turkey and a trimmed tree, a heaviness hung over the house. Always the maker of Christmas in the family, my mother's absence was raw, sharp and devastating.

As the years went on, little things hit me. "Angels We Have Heard on High," a favorite carol of Mom's, would bring me to tears. Gifts hidden in closets. Christmas morning coffee cake and cheese grits. Once our children came along, emotions only heightened. I tried to make Christmas wonderful for my kids, to give them memories they'd always cherish. But by December 24, as much as I tried to ignore it, the combined stress and sadness swept over me. It really wasn't the proper focus at all, for me or the kids. I hope they "got" Christ at Christmas despite my gloominess.

My mother's death pre-dated my spiritual rebirth by 8 years. But by the time I yielded my life to God, habits were firmly rooted. Habits like fixing my eyes on the seen, not the unseen. Valuing a worldly view over an eternal one. And yes, allowing memories and the idea of a picture-perfect Christmas to overwhelm me.

These days? It's much better, though my mind can dally near that old trail. I pray for a heart focused on Christ and his will for my December. To give, to serve, to love better. And to be comforted by God.

Still, perhaps I'll always struggle with a damaged heart around Christmas time. It seems to be a condition shared by so many. If you find yourself there, I understand. As Donna Boucher says,
"I won't tell you to snap out of it. I can only say, I know."

I pray blessings, peace, contentment and eyes ever on Christ this Christmas.

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