Author's Life · Senior Life

The Day After Christmas

Christmas should be all about Jesus, yet I realize how much I have come to rely on traditions. When we leave our parents’ homes and start our families, we make new traditions. Some of them will be based on traditions followed in the families of the new bride and groom.

Christmas when I was a child wasn’t filled with traditions. My dad worked nights and wasn’t always at home on Christmas Eve. We didn’t go to church. Sometimes my aunt and uncle and cousins would visit and we children were allowed to open one gift. I don’t remember a lot about Christmas back then, other than it was just my mom and me.

I wanted my children to have Christmases to remember. I wanted to teach them that we celebrate Christmas because we are remembering the birth of Jesus. We went to Christmas Eve candlelight services and would have a cake afterward while we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.

As the years passed and the children married, we began having a family celebration on Christmas Eve or close to it. I made a meal for everyone and we enjoyed being together, playing games, laughing, and exchanging presents. Christmas morning was quiet. My hubby and I exchanged our gifts while sipping hot chocolate. We tried to make it festive, but I always felt something was missing. Our family unit had changed.

The Christmas my mother spent with us after she moved in was another change. We didn’t have the family celebration because my husband was ill. We didn’t exchange any gifts, but the children and grandchildren did stop by to visit. This turned out to be my mother’s last Christmas as she died on December 30, my husband and my wedding anniversary. He was too ill to come to the hospital to say goodbye.

Thus, Christmas became a time that left me feeling empty. Three years later my husband died. Though my youngest daughter tried to brighten my Christmas by inviting me to be part of their Christmas morning, it was still bittersweet for me.

The best part of Christmas was being with family and attending Christmas Eve worship service. This year, 2022, this was not possible. Due to the winter storm, the roads were too bad to get out. Thus I spent Christmas Eve alone watching the worship service online. Christmas Day started being a day to rest and be present with God, but it soon turned into a pity party for me. I felt alone, abandoned, unnecessary, and worthless. I know this was Satan taking advantage of my grief. When I went on social media in the late afternoon, I didn’t stay long. All the pictures of happy families together was a trigger for me. Family was what I missed so much. Throughout the day I tried to remain strong, but I was glad when I fell asleep for a two hour nap and then again when I could go to bed without feeling I was using it as an excuse.

I woke this morning, and asked God to forgive me for being selfish and for not being strong enough to combat Satan’s attacks. Before feeding Finnegan or myself, I put away all the Christmas decorations and the tree. It’s a new season now, a week before the new year begins. In this time, I am focusing on making each day one of looking outward instead of inward. And being thankful for all God has provided.