Christmastime has a way of bringing such joy to people everywhere, and yet for those who grieve, it is such a time of paradox. I am not sure just what it is but Christmas has been both amazing and tough for me for a LONG time. My mother died in early January of 1988 an when this time of year begins to roll around those memories somehow find their way in. I spent each Christmas following that one without a mother. I wish I could remember more about that Christmas, yet I just don't.
Each of the grandparents I have lost, died around the holidays. I was blessed that all of my grandparents lived to see me graduate college, and I do still have two living grandparents, but I am certain that the death of grandparents changes Christmas forever. Grandparents, at least in my family are the glue that holds the family together and when that glue is gone, though the family still loves eachother, somehow everyone just quits making an effort.
Things change, life goes on and we have to adjust and regroup. I have always been able to do that and yet the loss of my boys is so strong at this time of year. Perhaps it is the two missing stockings to fill, or the two faces I will never see light up as Santa jingles bells outside their window on Christmas Eve. Two cozy pairs of PJs, I will never wrap for Christmas Eve. I struggle finding ways to include the boys in our Christmas cards without seeming like I have lost it and I still cannot sign a card, "Love, Howard, Kristy, Luke, Ben and Hope". I just can't. I am pretty sure I will always sign, "Love, The Bolte Family" somehow it includes them without saying whereas the previous leaves them out. So many things.
I am so excited to get to share Christmas with Hope this year. She stares at everything with great wonder in her eyes. She loves the lights, the shiny ornaments an the crinkly wrapping paper. She remains untouched by the commercialism that has been brought to the season and that innocence is more than refreshing.
I love talking about the real meaning of Christmas with the boys as they try to think outside of themselves and grasp the magnitude of what the day signifies. Two years ago, Luke was so confused about why on earth Mary and Joseph would have baby Jesus in a "staple" and he was convinced Mary's full name was surely "Mary Christmas" which was why we greeted people with such a phrase.
I love it, I love the magic of the season, the holiday food and spending time with those we love most, yet it does become bittersweet when your heart aches so deeply for those we will never make these memories with. There are times that I am so caught up in it all and am filled with such joy only to find myself weeping as I see Isaac and Asher's ornaments on the tree.
I was crying just the other day and telling Howard that though the void in my heart brings me to my knees most days there is a large part of me that is thankful that though I cannot be there to share our family traditions with Isaac and Asher, they will never know heartache or pain. They are celebrating the birth of their savior in His presence and as much as it hurts me it is also a comfort.
I also think that now, having walked the journey I have, I have a different perspective on Christmas. My heart aches when I think of what the Lord asked of Mary. I know the pain of carrying a child and loving him as long as the Lord allows here on earth with everything I have and then having to release him and just trust God. On a small scale, I am able to have just a tiny glimpse into what life might have been like for her and honestly, when I think of it, it wrecks me.
The road she walked and the load she carried, with the grace she carried it with amazes me. I find myself reading the story over and over and as I read the Magnificat I pray that I am able to have the faith she had, that I can cling to the only One who can make any of this right in a world gone mad.
If you have not visited this part of the book of Luke this holiday season, here is glimpse of what I am talking about:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
I know that many of you out there are hurting, and all I can say is, hang in there my friend. Life is hard, but God is good. Lean hard on Him and He will not let you go. Praise Him and rejoice because this is not all there is. Because Jesus was born we have new hope. Join me in praying for a heart like Mary who gives glory to God even in the most impossible of circumstances. Give it ALL to Him. Take the time this Christmas and really think about the gift we have been given. The gift of life. It is free. We serve a God who loves us that much. No matter how often we fail, he loves us with a passion we cannot even comprehend.
Oh, how my heart aches for my boys this Christmas but oh how my heart sings knowing that there is hope. This is not all there is my friends. Take heart.
I intend to spend time in the next week praying for the hurting hearts out there. If you have a prayer request please feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be honored to pray with you. I have been so blessed by the gift of prayer you all have given me.
Merry Christmas to you and yours! :)