We’re entering a season that seems to play out in three different ways for people.
For many, it’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” — most importantly, a time of celebrating Christ’s miraculous birth, and yes, as Andy Williams sang, a time of parties, and caroling, and “mistltoeing,” and all the rest.
Of course, it’s also a favorite time of year for shopping, with many people eagerly anticipating the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and carefully plotting their shopping strategies.
Unfortunately, for some, there’s something about the holidays that can also make this one of the most difficult times of the year. For people who are alone, out of work, ill, or carrying sad memories tied to past holidays, all the seasonal advertising and hype, and the sense that everyone but them is having a grand old time, can bring much pain.
For the most part, I’m in the first camp. Thanksgiving comes as a welcome reminder of all that I have to be grateful for, and I will never tire of singing Silent Night in church on Christmas Eve—celebrating our Savior who is central to all that I hold dear.
But I also have a foot in the third camp. While it’s been more than 10 years since my parents died, this season always reminds me of their final days. Sometimes I’m surprised by how vividly those memories live for me.
Just recently, one of our kids mentioned some activity that’s taking place on November 26th this year and the minute he mentioned that date my eyes filled with tears. It happened so quickly that it caught me off guard, but then I realized that was the date of my father’s death in 2004—the day after Thanksgiving. My mom had died less than a year earlier, 10 days before Christmas in 2003.
And now it all seems to be happening again. Earlier this year, just after Easter, my father-in-law passed away. And right now my mother-in-law is on hospice care.
All that to say that if the holidays bring you a mix of emotions, including some pain, I can relate.
So, here’s my encouragement. This year, as you make your holiday lists—whether grocery lists or gift lists—make one more list. Think of a few people for whom the holidays might be kind of tough. And then do something about it, something to brighten their spirits. You don’t have to buy them a gift; just sending a card that lets them know you’re thinking of them and they’re important to you would mean a lot.
I know you’ll make their holidays better, and in the process, I’m pretty sure you’ll make yours better as well.
From my family to yours, in whatever state you find yourself at the start of this holiday season, I pray you’ll experience God’s greatness and God’s goodness in very meaningful ways.