Well, here I am at my local diner with my coffee and my free newspaper sitting at my usual table for one. You can find me here most every Monday. The coffee is good and the paper is free. I know that makes me sound a bit like a senior citizen (which I am NOT) but it doesnt worry me enough to make me change my ways. Did I mention, the paper is free!
So I've read the news and downed two cups of coffee; I've read God's Word to get me in the right frame of mind to face the week ahead and I've turned on my lap top to spend some time with you and talk about... well what should we talk about in this, our first Monday Mourning together?
It's Christmas time. Tis the season of HO HO HO and Holly Jolly. I used to love Christmas. I would decorate everything and bake up a storm. I'd sing along with all the carols playing in every store- outloud. But these days I find the music mostly painful and don't seem to have the desire to decorate anything. The cause for this shift in mindset: GRIEF. My husband, David died of cancer 3 years ago after 26 years of marriage. I am now learning to live without my partner which I imagine feels a bit like trying to learn how to walk after losing a leg. It's doable but not preferable. But, like most events of our lives, I was not given a vote. Life happens and loss visits us all eventually. Mine just came a lot sooner than I expected.
Dont get me wrong. I still celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. I whole-heartedly express my gratitude for the birth of Christ. I am glad He was born in our world and in my heart. It's all the other stuff of Christmas that I find so difficult.
Shortly after David's death I went to a grief support group. They were pleasant enough people (as pleasant as grieving people can be at the holidays). The counselor seemed to be competent and compassionate. Then she said something that caused me to never return. I realize that is probably an extreme reaction to an isolated comment but when you're grieving you just dont have the nerves for foolishness. She said to this grief-stricken group, "It's only ONE day. Christmas is just a day and you can get through One day." It took every ounce of self control I had (another thing in short supply when you're grieving) not to jump out of my chair and shout, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? Christmas is not just a day - it's a season. It starts the day after Halloween and lasts until Jan. 1st. You cant go anywhere or turn on your TV without being bombarded by "the season". I could get through a day. It's the season that's getting on my very last nerve!" And speaking of TV - if I have to listen to one more jewelry commercial where the couple fall into each other's arms and pledge they will be together...forever I'm going to SCREAM!
Do you know you cant even pump gas into your car without having to listen to those carols? Have you ever really listened to the words? Not the religous ones - I'm OK with those. It's all those secular "carols" that I find particularly brutal. There's, "I'll have a blue Christmas without You", and "I'll be home for Christmas", and my least favorite, "All I want for Christmas is You."
REally, what were those people thinking when they wrote those songs?
Tis the season! I am so thankful for the Christ of Christmas. He gives meaning and purpose to the season for me. I was reading today that familiar narrative of the first Christmas and I found a passage that has become my favorite scripture during these days. It starts off the story which seems to me to be an appropriate way for us to frame "the season". Luke 2:1 says, "And it came to pass in those days...". Jesus came in those days of oppression and poverty and taxation not to mention no indoor plumbing - and walked right into our mess - to change our mess forever. If it were not for Christ "those days" would never pass. Endless, meaningless days of loss would be all any of us could hope for. But because of Jesus and all the purpose and hope He brings into our world and into my life in particular we can face this "Monday Mourning" with the calm assurance that "it will come to pass." This season of mourning will pass just as surely as the season of HO HO HO will be replaced by a new year. And it came... to pass. Thank you Lord for the hope of brighter days. Perhaps next year I will be able to sing along with the "holly, jolly" crowd. I almost got out a HO HO HO while pumping my gas yesterday. So I will celebrate the reason for the season and look with great expectation for joyful days to come. God is good and I'm OK - most of the time. How are you doing? I'd love to hear from you- especially if, like me, your in the season of grief. Take a deep breath, give yourself a break. If you dont want to decorate or bake or sing along - it's OK. I understand. So does God. That's why He came. Tis the Season.