It's Christmas week and it's impossible as always. All these feelings. Plus a giant paper that I've been putting off for almost a month. Grad school deadlines may be the death of me. I've got til NYE. I've got Little Man working on some homework. Little Lady snuck the Nativity under the table and is playing with Baby Jesus. And before you go and think about how cute she is, I'm hearing talk that Baby Jesus has lava coming out of his butt. Almost four and the potty talk is off the hook. So Merry Christmas and pass the Pepto. Sigh.
Last week was our big family vacation week. And in true family fashion, Hubs had pneumonia and sinusitis and the rest of us had colds and we were all just a big hot mess. So instead of going on a trip to see the ocean and big trees, we had a staycation and our goal was to eat out at least once a day and do something fun everyday. And sleep in and nap a lot. So that's what we did. It was pretty nice too. It was actually really nice, because the pressure was off, we relaxed a lot and we had some good food. We also saw Star Wars and loved it, so there you go. I'm calling it a win.
But now here we are and its that week. The one that is merry and bright and happy and festive and filled with cheer. Except not so much. Because five years ago we were in the PICU with our Jameson, waiting for him to die, knowing that there was nothing else we could do, except still pray for that miracle and try to keep our boy out of pain. And I'm still right there, five years later this week. Watching his body betray him, watching everything spiral down, trying to remain hopeful in the face of despair.
Part of me doesn't mind being stuck there. Its sounds bad to write that...like I'm being dramatic on purpose or something, but this was the last week of my son's life. Even though it was horrific, he was still here and I miss him so much. As bad as that was, living, continuing to be without him here, sometimes that feels worse.
It's hard enough on normal days and Christmas isn't close to normal. Christmas is extraordinary. Christmas is magic and happiness and childhood warm and fuzzies. It's the birth of our Savior, the birth of hope in this broken world. It's love, unconditionally given, all wrapped up into one day. It is presents and rice pudding and crab legs. It is staying up too late and twinkle lights and Midnight Mass. Candles and chocolates. Cookies with sprinkles. Cousins and Grandmas and special traditions.
Except that it is a lot more than those things now for me. For me it is also sadness, grief and death. It is cold and loud and overwhelming. And when I want nothing more than to run away to someplace warm and quiet and undecorated, I try to think about what it used to be. And then I try to make that happen for my kids. But it is a struggle at times.
And I certainly still have special moments that I love about this season. The whole celebration of Advent and really focusing on Christ's birth has truly become the joy of Christmas for me. This is a beautiful thing. I love passing this on to my kids, too. We light the candle and read the Advent book. And we try to do everything else so they can have the warm and fuzzy memories, too. We bake cookies and wrap presents and sing carols. We will see Peacock Lane and the Christmas Ships (if we can get our acts together this week.) There will be Midnight Mass and more presents than they imagined and rice pudding and crab. We will stay up late and eat chocolate. And I love the idea that even though this season is a strain for me, I'm still making it magical for them.
But the 26th always comes after the 25th of December and Christ's birth will forever be tied to Jameson's death for me. In a way, this perceptive is amazing. Hope is birthed the day before despair tries to overthrow everything. And even though despair may win a battle or two along the way, I already know the ending to this story. And I have hope that can carry me through these dark and hard days. “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no
more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the
former things have passed away.” Revelation 21.4.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May the birth of Christ truly be your light and hope in this world, as it is for me and mine.