The holidays are often a time of joyous celebrations, gathering with family, parties, and gifts galore.
But that’s not always the case for everyone. There are many around us right now who dread the holiday season.
It might be because they are struggling financially but still want to provide gifts for their children. They might have a terrible memory attached to a holiday in their past. Or they may have recently (or not so recently) lost someone and are experiencing their first holiday without them.
Christmas used to be a holiday that I always got so excited about. But when I lost my mother in 2018, that first Christmas (and every holiday) without her was incredibly painful. You see, Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday too.
When you see the empty seat at the table. When you realize they’re not in the annual Christmas family photo. When there are no gifts under the tree for them. It hurts.
And two years later, I still struggle in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. Yes, I am thankful for what I have. Yes, I know my mother is in a better place. But that doesn’t take away the feeling that something is missing. Because it is.
A singer I grew up on, Mark Schultz, released a Christmas song called “A Different Kind of Christmas” and it was just the song I needed this season. With lyrics like…
“Putting candles in the windows
Lights upon the tree
But there’s no laughter in this house
Not like there used to be
There’s just a million little memories
That remind me you’re not here
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year”
But what I love most about this song is the hope that exists in the final verses and chorus…
“There’s voices in the driveway
Families right outside the door
And we’ll try to make this Christmas like the ones we’ve had before
As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face
And I realize what’s still alive is the legacy you made
It’s time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It’s time to fill this house with laughter like it used to be
Just because you’re up in heaven, doesn’t mean you’re not near
It’s just a different kind of Christmas”
So you may be feeling like this Christmas season is going to be a different kind of Christmas for you. I hope you know you’re not alone. Don’t hold in the pain, the longing, the loss. Let those closest to you help carry the pain.
Because even though there may be one (or more) empty chairs around the table this year, what’s left is the legacy they made. And like the final line says, “Just because you’re up in heaven, doesn’t mean you’re not near
It’s just a different kind of Christmas this year”.