December 20, 2021- The Grief Journey

Joy isn’t tied to my circumstance, but to my confidence in Jesus Christ!

I have always enjoyed Christmas and have many fond childhood memories of Christmas. But Shari made Christmas special. She was the decorator, party planner, shopper, gift giver, gift wrapper, head cook (I was the designated dishwasher and assistant.) This Christmas is loaded with all kinds of unpredictable emotions, you have been warned, I may be laughing one minute and crying the next.

But I am determined to celebrate the glorious birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and do all I can to make Christmas 2021 special for the people in my life, that’s what Shari would want for us.

The tree is decorated, thanks to four little girls ages 9, 5, 3 and 1. It may be missing Shari’s touch, but she would love it. The stockings are hung with care, and will soon be overflowing with things she had already gathered.

Let me reminiscence to our first Christmas married; stockings were not a big deal growing up for my family, we got fruit, candy and a few nuts. That’s what I thought stockings were for, did I ever learn a lesson about Christmas stockings in 1984. Let’s just say my gift of fruit and candy wasn’t the most cherished gift I gave Shari that year, but one I have never forgotten, or repeated. Shari put a lot of thought into what went into the stocking, gathering things throughout the year. She could stuff more “stuff” into a stocking than you can imagine. The stockings weren’t touched until after gifts were exchanged and usually elicited as much or more excitement than the gifts. It was so serious that I learned to “practice” filling her stocking to see how much I could stuff in there, and make sure it was full, then remove it all and do it again on Christmas Eve.

So the stockings will be well stuffed this year, thanks to Shari’s advance preparation. I do need to practice stuffing all eight of them.

So, this Christmas Eve we will meet up at church for our Christmas Eve service that I will be leading, with assistance, then it will be off to my house where we will eat (a scaled back dinner, each of us chose our favorite “finger food” and will bring it to share,) we will exchange gifts, un-stuff stockings and celebrate the birth of Jesus. There will be tears mingled in with lots of laughter and excitement provided by four little girls that deserve to be shown that joy is not based on our circumstances but in Jesus and the love we share for one another as Shari’s influence in our lives continues.

Every year has its challenges, it seems like many in my circle have had a year with a few more challenges than normal. But this I know; the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient to see us through. It won’t be easy, but we can do it through Christ who gives us strength.

I heard this song this morning from Mark Schultz and it really hit home; A Different Kind of Christmas…

… Snow is falling Christmas Eve
Lights are coming on up and down the street
The sound of carols fills the air
And people rushing home, families everywhere
… Putting candles in the windows
Lights upon the tree
But there's no laughter in this house
Not like there used to be
There's just a million little memories
That remind me you're not here
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year
… In the evening fires glow
Dancing underneath the mistletoe
A letter left from Santa Claus
Won't be the same this year in this house because
… There's one less place set at the table
One less gift under the tree
And a brand new way to take their place inside of me
I'm unwrapping all these memories
Fighting back the tears
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year
… There's voices in the driveway
Families right outside the door
And we'll try to make this Christmas like the ones we've had before
As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face
And I realize what's still alive is the legacy you made
… It's time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It's time to fill this house with laughter like it used to be
Just because you're up in heaven, doesn't mean you're not near
It's just a different kind of Christmas
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year
A special thanks to all who have gone and done above and beyond to make sure our family has a special Christmas!

Merry Christmas, even if it is a different kind of Christmas!!!

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