Monday, December 24, 2012

When the Holidays are Bittersweet

Today is bittersweet for me. Christmas Eve is an annual family part at my mom's house with great food and honoring why we celebrate Christmas- Jesus! It's also a super exciting time of year for the kids. Their Elf on the Shelf left them a teeny tiny goodbye note this morning and she made them an Altoids tin full of little donuts.
 They appear to be Cheerios dipped in powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate and sprinkles. She'll be heading home to the North Pole with Santa tonight, until next December. Craig and I are totally done wrapping gifts and that's a good feeling. We can breathe and just wait for tomorrow morning. Jacob is so excited he's afraid he won't sleep at all tonight. Christmas is special! I'm thankful for our church and the Advent season and how it helped refocus my heart on Jesus and the expectation of his birth, the birth of our Savior. I'm thankful for miracles and dreams coming true in my own life and my friend's lives. This time of year makes things feel so warm and extra-special for me.

But yet, it's also bittersweet. This day, one year ago, our brother-in-law, Jim, passed away suddenly from a heart attack. At 36. It was devastating news and left us all reeling. Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig's sister today. The first anniversary of a dear one's passing is tough. You can't just avoid it and not think about it, but thinking about it can open up the whole can of memories and sadness. Death is a weird thing for our human brains to totally wrap around. So today I have happiness and joy for Christmas and having all three kids under our roof for another year. But also tears as my brain remembers just how much has happened this past year. It's also our first Christmas without Craig's mom, Linda. It was weird not sending a Christmas card to her. Not buying her anything. Not going out to Red Robin or Red Lobster last week as we normally would have with her.

The holidays are wonderful, yes, but also tough for a lot of people. Some families have parents who've divorced and that adds a whole sticky and sometimes icky element. Many people remember and can't help but count how many Christmases this is without a loved one by their side.

So hug your friends and family. Love them. Accept them as they are. Be gentle with yourself and with others.  Under smiles and joy there's often other things, too. Hidden tears or prayers that aren't exactly appropriate to air at casual holiday get togethers. Life is short, love much.

Merry Christmas dear ones~
Tonie Christine Photography

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