This year Thanksgiving is later which seems to put less time to prepare before Christmas arrives! Normally I would fret about not being organized and wondering if I was going to get everything done. For some reason, this year I am not fretting but looking forward to spending the holidays with my children and their families.
As a child, I remember Christmas being so special. There was always the anticipation of having all of our family home. On Christmas Day, my dad would harness up the horses, attach the sleigh to them and we would be gone all afternoon. Below is a picture of my dad, one of my brothers, two nieces and a nephew.
As we all grew up and had families of our own, some of our traditions changed. My parents moved from our hobby farm in Coon Rapids, MN to Minneapolis, MN and the horses were sold. Our families grew and to try to find a place to get together was difficult. Besides that, many moved out of Minnesota due to jobs.
For myself, I wanted to keep the tradition of having Christmas Eve in our home and we did. However, that tradition changed with the loss of Dan. What traditions do we keep and what new traditions do we try?
Our lives have changed and it will never be the same. As difficult as that may sound, what would your loved one want you to do? Would they want you to change things up? Would they want you to keep things the same? Probably not! What they most likely would like is for you to remember them and not forget the love they had for your family. One of the promises from the Bible that I have learned over the years comes from Psalms 34:18 (Good News Translation) which reads: The LORD is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope.
Over time our traditions have changed especially over the holidays. Not all of my children live in Minnesota, so we often travel to where they live. Unfortunately, not every year for every holiday are we together. I will admit – that one was one change that took me the longest to get used to. For those of us who are together, we still get together on Christmas Eve for dinner and gift opening. Christmas Day is more relaxed than it used to be. Our dinners have also changed from having a big dinner to appetizers or sometimes both.
Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to change things. It may take a while to figure out what may or may not work for you. Another one of the great promises God had for us comes from Matthew 11:28 which reads: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Perhaps another word for rest would be peace.
May I suggest a few options? Below are a few possibilities for you this year or the coming years. Nothing needs to change or perhaps you need a change.
- Break a tradition:
- If you have been the host to holiday’s in the past, suggest to one of you children or other family member host these first few holidays.
- Invite another person to your holiday who is also alone.
- Perhaps this year is just too difficult to be with others, give yourself permission to spend it alone.
- Remembering your spouse:
- Put together a memory book of your spouse. You may also invite others to add memories to this book. This doesn’t need to be just for the holidays but can be for all year long.
- Make or purchase decorations in honor of you loved one.
- Continue to hang the stocking of your loved one. Let your guests know ahead of time to bring a written note of your loved one and put it in their stocking. Take turns pulling the memories out of the stocking and read them. Hopefully, you will have some happy memories that will make you laugh and sometimes cry.
- Donate to a charity of your choice in honor of your loved one.
- What about you?
- Perhaps schedule a massage, pedicure or manicure for yourself.
- It’s ok to turn down events that you are having a difficult time deciding if you want to attend.
- Be open with your family and friends on what you are feeling. Unless they have been in your shoes, they may not understand your choices.
God’s promise is to be there for us. He gave us the promise of the birth of Jesus in Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and he will be called Immanuel. As with the promise of Jesus birth from the Old Testament to the reality of the New Testament, we have the hope that we will see our loved ones again!
My prayer for each of you is to find peace in this Christmas season. Those that have gone before us are always in our hearts!