Christmas Eve 2017 was different. It seems as if every Christmas has been different since losing my husband. This one wasn’t a “bad” different – just “more” different. We attended the Christmas Eve service at our church and it wasn’t the same as in past years, because there were slightly new traditions. There was no communion service and we had battery operated candles for the candle lighting. (I think we just got a battery candle because we got there a little close to the start of the service.) Now that I have been home for a few hours, I realize that those things didn’t change the meaning of the night. After all, sometimes things change.
We got home and I let my daughter open the traditional Christmas Eve gift. For years, it has been strategically purchased pajamas so that she could wear them to bed and have them on when she woke up. It helped to make perfect Christmas morning pictures. This year she is 14 and has pretty much caught on to what the gift will be so she asked for Christmas onesies. She wanted us each to have a pair – matching onesies. Um…might look good on her but not sure about me. Of course, I got them and she was so excited! Mine were slightly big…I forget that I am not the same size as I used to be. They looked great in our selfie pictures and now I hope to exchange them for a smaller size. They were actually quite comfy!
She went to bed and my melancholy set in. I guess it is better than the overwhelming anxiety I had when I awoke. When you are missing a loved one, grief and anxiety are things that just come with the holidays. Having a teenager made me realize that there is no Barbie house to build or Santa presents to leave out. We didn’t leave cookies and milk for Santa or throw Reindeer food outside. It is just an ordinary night. After she went to bed, I picked up my room and got some clothes ready to pack for my mom’s house. The presents fit neatly under the tree. I remember the years when the whole living room was covered in things both wrapped and set out from Santa. This year is different. She is such a humble teenager, doesn’t demand the latest form of technology or clothes from the most expensive stores. I think she asked for three things. Of course, I got her a little more. The part that I am most proud of is that she understands that she doesn’t have to have 20-50 presents to be happy. She is happy with whatever she gets and knows it is more about what she needs than what she wants. I know that as she grows up she will appreciate all that she has because she understands that sometimes it is a struggle to provide for even daily needs. Fads will fade away and the clothes will wear out but her heart and character are things that will take her further in life.
The most important part about Christmas is not what you can get or how many presents you can unwrap. The most important thing to remember is that Jesus came to ordinary parents into an ordinary world and was laid in an ordinary place, a manger. He came to this world to do an extraordinary thing, save us from our sins and teach us more about the miracles of God so that we could live in heaven one day.
Life is different as a single mom and widow. Everything changes and things aren’t the same but I know that God still has a plan. Just as the baby born in the manger had a very special purpose, each one of us does too. Traditions may change and celebrations may be different but I am so blessed to have a daughter who has a heart so big and not afraid to match onesies with her mom. I am going to bed watching “The Nativity Story” and will awake Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of Jesus and enjoy it with my daughter before we attend other celebrations with family. May all who read this know the reason for Christmas and cherish every memory that you make.