The snow crunched beneath our boots, my nephew was born, I decorated my tree, found the perfect gold ribbon for wrapping gifts, went to parties. I’ve done everything the holiday season calls for.
I know I’ll remember this Christmas. This one.
Sometimes we don’t get to prepare for the pain we know is coming, sometimes we do.
But pain always comes and it makes me wonder why I don’t often stop and look at my life when it’s good and say, “Just stay here a little longer.”
My life this year doesn’t look like a lot of the people around me. The magic of Christmas has somewhat waned. I’m old enough to know the tragedy of materialism, the pain of singleness at the holidays, the drudgery of exams, the unfortunate weight of grief. I watch my parents grow older, grow softer, grow closer. I hold tight and pray to remember these moments. I rock my newest nephew and memorize his little face. I teach the oldest to say new words and hum Christmas tunes. I try to remember to take more pictures, file away more memories.
I am blessed. I have more than some, but somehow I am grieved because I feel that I have less than others. Christmas—all is said to be calm, why doesn’t all feel bright? They tell me to let my heart be light and yet, there is heaviness. But there is also thankfulness. Every night I hear familiar, nostalgic songs and watch classic movies and I remember that God came and still comes. Christmas brings with it the tension and the pressure to hold on to what is good because it all just goes so fast and I don’t stop enough to notice sometimes.
I want to be grateful, I will be thankful, but I do not want to be fake. Because the truth is that I will remember this Christmas, for good reasons, for hard reasons. For reasons that I will look back and laugh on. For memories of going to the airport and laughing in the grocery store. For riding in the car by myself and singing loudly. For these days without so much responsibility, for the in-between, for knowing it will not always be this way. For knowing it is good, even though it is so hard. For knowing some years will be harder. We do not know which years will be good, which years will be harder—so when you can stop and see the good, that’s worth the time you can give it.
The tension of Christmas, of looking around and knowing we are so blessed, but of knowing that sometimes that blessing highlights all the ways we were blessed differently years before and might be blessed differently in years to come. That blessing sometimes hurts.
I’ll remember this Christmas. This one. The one in the in-between. The tension of life looking nothing like it once did, or how I wanted or hoped it would. But it is now one that is blessed, beautiful, full of tension and even grief. Sometimes it’s calm and bright, sometimes it’s crying, questions, waiting, tension, and misunderstanding. But there’s a lot of good and I’m learning to slow down to try and see it more. I am trying to see just how good it is right here and right now. This year we will gather around and raise toasts to years gone by, to those empty chairs, to ones that might be emptier sooner than we hope. I’ll remember this Christmas. This one. The one with goodness, grief, babies being born on snowy mornings. We are blessed, will be blessed, but maybe next year we will be blessed differently. But I’ll remember this Christmas. This one. And how I’m praying we can stop to sit long enough to see the goodness and remember His coming and the coming yet to be.