While I am enjoying where I am this Christmas, there is still a part of me that longs for Christmas past. Some of you may share the feeling. Christmas past can be a place we miss … the house with the doors that swung open to greet us … the place that signified warmth, comfort and safety. But for many of us, the place matters only because of the loved ones who once occupied that space with us.
Christmas does bring grief into full bloom as we remember sharing holidays with those who cannot share them with us now. Some people mistakenly believe that one should never talk about those who are no longer with us. However, to attempt to bury the memories of a loved one along with burying their body is truly to lose the beauty God intended for us to keep.
Remember God gave us memory for a reason. Memory is a gift. Our loved ones are not completely gone to us. They still linger in memory. Take some time to remember who they were. Think of the joys they brought and lovingly forgive any mistakes they made. Think of their idiosyncrasies, things that were unique to them. Remember the way they walked, talked, and laughed. Remember the way they smiled, the way they hugged, kissed and showed their love for you.
Think of the funniest thing they ever did. Allow yourself to laugh all over again. Thank God for His Wonderful Gift in allowing you to spend the time you had with them. Thank God for the lessons they taught you.
Find others who also remember them and enjoy your memories together. When family members and friends get together and share stories, it is amazing to see how alive the person becomes again. If there is no one who can remember your loved one, find someone new who never knew them … and tell them what they were like.
Find ways to remember those you loved in the holiday season. The first Christmas after my mother died, I got an ornament that said, “Mother is another word for Love.” I pasted her picture on the back of the ornament and put it in the most prominent place on the tree. My father always signed off any parting with the words, “I love you with all my heart.” After his promotion to heaven, I got an ornament that was a big heart. It is in his memory and enjoys a place next to my mother’s ornament.
At one of the Christmas church services, as I sang “Joy to the World”, I said in my mind, as if I were talking to my Mother, “Oh how we used to love to sing that together. I wish so much we could do that again.” God could have brought His Comfort in any manner, but He chose to let me hear the words in my head, as she would have said them … “We can. Sing! We’re still singers together. We’re just in different sections of the choir!”
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.
Perhaps you can take this as a Word from your loved one. The Lord comforted me in the loss of my parents with these words:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy … think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me … put it into practice. And the God of Peace will be with you!
The best way we can remember those we love is to take what we have learned, received, heard or seen in them … and with God’s Grace and Direction … go forth into the world and pass it on. One of those Christmas stars you see blinking in the distance may be the vantage point from which the one you love is cheering you on!