Finding a tender companion to grief at Christmastime

More catalogs and advertisements are filling our mailbox this time of year. Tucked between Golf Digest, an ad for car sales and one actual Christmas card was the Mrs. Fields catalog. They come around holidays and are tossed in the recycle bin with old newspapers and unwanted ads. I glanced at it thinking, when have I ordered Mrs. Fields cookies and then I remembered. The past few years that mom was in a Memory Care facility I sent a tin of goodies for her to share with the staff. She’s always had a sweet tooth and we quit worrying about her sugar once Alzheimer’s took control of her mind.

This has been the year of first in her passing. The first year I haven’t bought her a Mother’s Day or birthday card and the first I won’t send her one at Christmas with a tin of assorted cookies. She hasn’t known these were sent by her first born. It didn’t matter, I’d sent them for me, because I still knew she was my mama.

my grandmother (left) volunteer bell ringer and member of the Salvation Army

Holidays can magnify our feelings of loss. We remember how uncle Johnny would have led the family prayer around the table or how mama would have feigned surprise when we opened our gifts. Their favorite Christmas carols and tireless desire to help others show up in our playlist and every time we drop some change in one of those red buckets. These memories can well up inside of us and slip down our faces as the tears fall, or worse, we try to hold them back.

 

Here’s the thing, it’s okay. It’s all okay.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott

It didn’t happen right away, but with some time I’ve come to welcome those softened pulls of grief, allowing them to replace the hurt with comfort. Feeling my heart smile more than cry when I look at the photos when we were together. I can laugh when I think of that one photo where my father-in-law left a knit cap on his head the whole time we opened presents.  This was out of character for him and the picture of him and my mother-in-law sitting side by side in their flannel shirts brings a tender smile to my face.

I had too few holidays with my parents but rather than lament the time lost I’m learning to find gratitude in the times we had.

and a source for joy.

I can’t unwrap our Christmas decorations without missing mama or Barbara. The Salvation Army band playing makes me think of daddy and uncle Johnny and their love for the brass music. Every glimpse of the old photos remind me of youth that’s given way to age and nothing is as it was. But it is good.

I’m coaxing gratitude to keep company with the memories. It doesn’t come natural but it’s true. And true is better than good.

More about Debby Hudson

Where do you find grace? Inside the church walls? Around the dinner table with your family? For years, grace was not much more than the prayer we said before meals or a biblical concept. Then I met a group of men who had, as we say, reached bottom. They welcomed me to Graceland. They showing me grace can be found in the darkest of places. I'm still searching and learning. I hope you'll want to come along.

16 thoughts on “Finding a tender companion to grief at Christmastime

  1. Patricia Mark

    OH Debby, this brought tears to my eyes. This is the second Christmas without my mom. It’s hard but slowly the memories will bring joy and gratitude. Thank you.❤️ Pat

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      It is hard, Patricia. But the joy is quietly there and I’m so thankful for that.

      Reply

  2. Annette Tinholt Vellenga

    Christmas and missing those not present, it’s a reality. But Joy remains.
    Visiting from FMF#16

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      Yes, the joy remains! Thanks for stopping by Annette.

      Reply

  3. Gabriele

    I am glad you wrote about the grief that bubbles up at Christmas time as we miss our loved ones past from this life. Gratitude is a suitable companion, your are right.

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      Maybe I’m feeling it more with none of our parents left. Loss seems felt more deeply at this time of year, Gabriele. And for some reason, I’ve felt writing about grief is important and an area God’s given me compassion. I know you count your gifts more than your loss. Praising God for his presence in your life.

      Reply

  4. Joanne Viola (@JViola79)

    Debby, this post brought such emotion. I cannot imagine what it would be like when I am on the other side of this post.May God bring you His comfort and peace and joy as you remember all the memories. Blessings!

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      Thank you Joanne. Yes, God’s comfort is felt so close these days.

      Reply

  5. Tara L Ulrich

    Such a beautiful post. So much THIS: “I’m coaxing gratitude to keep company with the memories. It doesn’t come natural but it’s true. And true is better than good.”

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      Oh, thank you Tara. You are always so kind. Hope you’re enjoying the snowfall on the prairie 🙂

      Reply

  6. Annie Rim

    Love that Anne Lamott quote. Reminds me of the one by Leonard Cohen – about light shining through the cracks… Indeed, gratitude is a companion for grief and a source for joy. Remembering the importance of that in this dark-but-anticipating-the-light season.

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      I share that quote with my sister this week. Her dad died in Dec. 9 years ago and she is still struggling with moms loss. She said this quote was just right. And it is. Yes, I like light shining through the cracks too. There’s a lot in those few words. Thanks Annie. xx

      Reply

  7. m1cey

    May you find peace and joy and comfort this Christmas. ❤️

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      Thank you m1cey. He is reminding me of his peace, joy and comfort through kind folks like you.

      Reply

  8. blaaklistwriters

    Oh Debby! This was beautiful! Thank you for giving us something to DO… just what I was asking for. Gratitude! You are so right.

    ❤️ this: “I’m coaxing gratitude to keep company with the memories. It doesn’t come natural but it’s true. And true is better than good.”

    Praying comfort, strength, and joy for you in this season!
    Shauna (privilege to be your neighbour again)

    Reply

    1. Debby Hudson

      Thank you Shauna. I’m encouraged by this wonderful community.

      Reply

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