Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas can be a sad time too.

The older I get, Christmas memories can bring me to a melancholy place. A few Christmas songs even sound sad to me now. It is not a surprise that this time of year has the highest suicide rate. What a hard time for so many. For months now, we have been surrounded by Christmas.
Music, decorations, even commercials joyously show happy families decorating their tree, or gathering together at a huge meal- no one fighting, no one missing. The pain of broken relationships, the separation by miles or even death, are magnified in great proportions in December.

This week in December and the songs playing on my blog now, transport me back to eight years ago, to San Lorenzo, California. My mother was dying of cancer, only months before she passed away. She was no longer able to speak so music often played, replacing the sound of her voice and the laughter of ours, with the songs that she loved. This Christmas CD (Celine Dion) was her new favorite, and since it was her favorite, it was mine too. One of her best friends (she was blessed with many best friends) was dying too. On December 9th of that year, Ginger, who she loved, lost her fight to an unsuspected staff infection and passed away at the young age of 48. It was so hard to watch Ginger's family suffer at this time of year. Ginger had just become a grandma and had been with her husband since they were young children. Anytime of year it is difficult to lose someone you love, but at Christmas it seems that much more painful.

My sister Jennifer followed me in her own car to be there for me and mom. When I drove up to the house to share the news with my mother, her precious friend Bev (another best friend) was just leaving and knew why I had arrived, what hard task I had ahead of me. She hugged me and told me that it would be ok. (Bev passed away last year. Now her family is struggling to fill the hole left by the death of their parents. Their father died only months before Bev did.)

What a hard time that was. Thinking back on those memories makes me cry even today. What blesses my heart, what gives me comfort is knowing that this separation is temporary. One of the very reasons God sent His precious baby boy into our world was so that death would be defeated. His resurrection is evidence of that. My grateful heart is especially thankful for this most precious gift at Christmas. "So we are always confident (ALWAYS CONFIDENT!) knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." 2Cor.5:6-8

This Christmas I am not absent from my body, or present with the Lord...but my mom is. I can't wait until I can see her again and hug her again, and share with her all of the joys that I have experienced while we have been apart ... and maybe even tattle on a few who have hurt her little girl. Tattling is ok in Heaven right? I can't even imagine the joy we will experience, laughing again as we talk about all that has happened to both of us.

I miss her so.


Mari said...

You're right - it can be a sad time. My brother-in-law is having a hard time with the holidays since Jan has only been gone since October. It is fun to think about the catching up in heaven!

Jennifer said...

I fully agree...we are happy but yet sad all at the same time. Just like I posted on two different ones about Christmas being a hard time without my dad of 19 years now and the other about the heaviness that I have for a son who isn't living for the Lord. I want to see both my dad and son in heaven after the second coming. My dad is already there waiting and I am praying that my son doesn't miss out.

I have to re-focus and get my mind back on what we are celebrating or it could become a depressive time with the economy, wanting to buy for everyone, missing a loved one and so on. Jesus Christ is our provider, He is more than enough and I have to hang on it that for dear life somedays.

God bless you, Joanne and the precious heart that you have.

P.S. I have an award waiting for you over at my "place"...come on by and pick it up.

Cheri said...

This is so true. The best memories of Christmas are usually memories of our time together with family.
We have to never take that for granted while we have them here with us.

Elizabeth M Thompson said...

Joanne, I want to cry! Christmas is bittersweet for me, too. So many family traditions have changed because we lost a generation. This is only my second Christmas without my grandparents (and I spent 42 Christmases with them!)

I am finding joy in creating new traditions with the youngest generation and like you, looking forward to reunions on the other side of eternity.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post, Joanne. I am touched by your story. This is a very difficult time when we remember those that are no longer with us...but this time also reminds us of the hope we have in Jesus. I don't know how so many people can cope with what they have going on in their lives, especially this time of year, without God's love guiding them along the way. Your mom sounds like a wonderful women and a great role model for you.

Sheryl said...

ok...well, now i'm crying!

there are so many that i miss that have gone on to be with Jesus. i know i will see them again, but it sure is hard.

and then, there is the one that i will not be with this year for the first time in 18 years. God is doing a mighty work. but i believe part of the healing will come through this pain we feel.

you are a blessing. your mom would be so very proud!!


Paula (SweetPea) said...

You are so right, Joanne. This month and season is hard, especially if a person died during this time. But even losses endured at different times (like summer), these holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas are so hard without those with us. I lost my step mom (of 30 years) two years ago on 12/11. It's still so hard for my dad. He's known no other life than with her. Yet, he seems to be doing much better than me who's not been separated by death but by tragic divorce. But then, that MAY be a gender difference....women being more emotional.

Sweet blessings to you. It's only by keeping our focus on the reason that we can endure without our loved ones.

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

You are right, Joanne! It can be such a hard time. I think we have a tendancy to idealize this time of year in our heads, imagining all should be perfect...but it really is just another day. We carry the same burdens...yet we celebrate His birth. We just want the ones we love to all be with us as we celebrate, don't we. sigh...I cry with you, girl. I sit and cry with you!


Aly said...


Lisa said...

Knowing Christ comes with such a security. I love that post.

Beth in NC said...

I'm so sorry. I understand. If you see one of my latest blogs, I used the same word, "bittersweet" to describe Christmas. God bless you as you remember the loved ones who are ahead of us in eternity. I pray you will have many years of great joy and new memories filled with laughter to help fill the void.

God bless you!

Ang baylis said...

I LOVE this post. Most times when I hear music come on automatically I turn down the volume. This time I turned it up! I know this can be a sad time for so many. It makes me miss my dad and sister and have the memory of the breakup of my family when I found out my husband was having an affair just a week before Christmas. I'm glad we have Jesus... We have hope and yes, sister, we will see our loved ones soon! Thank you for sharing your heart with us... (and your favorite music)!
SO much love,
Angie xoxo

Growin' with it! said...

aww, you know my heart and story and so i hope you know how true this post is for me as well. it's also great knowing we will have more sisters in heaven too, don'tcha think!♥

Angie said...

Oh Joanne....I feel what you feel. AND HOPE with that same HOPE! AND KNOW. With a knowing that cannot be explained!

I love you dear friend! Come to my place tonight--I have a surprise...but it will not be up until tonight!

A Stone Gatherer said...

Joanne, my heart goes out to all those who have lost someone and are suffering this time of year! Thanks for reminding us of those who are sad and need someone to reach out to them!

Kate said...

Oh man, that's some rough stuff at Christmas. And with Mari, catching up in heaven will be fun. We'll put you on our prayer list this month.

Shellee said...

thanks for sharing. i lost my Dad in April and this has definitely been the hardest season ever. i am looking forward to seeing him again as well!


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