Monday, December 19, 2011

A Different Christmas

This year, I purposely set our Christmas tree up in a different place. I left our Christmas village in the box and created a scene out of choir boys, pine trees, and snow men. Instead of outlining our front window with lights, I set an angel and the three wise men on the sill. I used the same Nativity scene as in past years but changed the arrangement a bit. I bought new stockings, embroidered our names on them for the first time, and hung them somewhere we’ve never hung stockings before. We’ve even altered our Christmas Eve tradition.

I did all this knowing that our Christmas is going to be very different this year. My family has gone through some changes that are making the holidays . . . well . . . hard. Trying to do things as we always have would only make it more obvious that special days like Christmas will never be quite the same again. Instead of allowing difficult change to rob us of our joy, we are using it as an opportunity to weave in some fun change as well—changes that we chose.

The holidays have a way of magnifying our losses, resurrecting the pain and knowledge that, no matter how hard we pray and plan, it won’t be like last year. People are missing. Broken relationships mean sharing loved ones and being more flexible. Some traditions get lost in the rubble; others we need to skip so we won’t add more grief to the day. This is when we must choose whether to wallow in the lost traditions or make new ones and ask God to help us enjoy them just as much.

I’ve found that making up my mind to do Christmas differently has helped in the process of grieving the loss that forced the changes. Are we sad? Yes! Will Christmas morning feel strange? I know it will. But I also know that God has been good to us through these life-altering circumstances, and that Christmas is about His Son, not my traditions. This is our opportunity to focus on His goodness, including the ways that He inspired creativity and allowed us to have fun no matter what.

Are you facing a different kind of Christmas this year? Ask God to help you accept the changes even as you grieve, and show you how to make this season of celebrating Christ’s birth different in a good way.

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