I don’t know about you, but I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays. A lot. It’s only September yet here I am being inundated by thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Under normal circumstances this would not be entirely unusual for me. I’m a planner. I’m one of those people who typically buys Christmas presents throughout the year. My goal has always been to have all shopping completed before Thanksgiving. While we’re talking about it, I’m also one of those who has the house decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving! My rationale in doing things in this way is so I can have everything completed and enjoy the true reason for the season. Yeah, it’s kind of nuts, but since I continue to do this somewhere in there, I must think the benefits far outweigh the stress and pressure I put on myself. Now that I’ve given you a little peak into my Type-A personality, I guess it’s not too difficult to understand why my mind is fast forwarding to the holidays.
Unfortunately, this year is not a normal year, for me and so many others. Due to Covid, I’m sure it will be a very different year for countless numbers of people. There are thousands who have been out of work for months, and just as many who have lost loved ones for various reasons. For me and my family, it will be the first time Melanie will not be here. Sure, there have been years that we didn’t celebrate the holidays together. Especially during the hard years when she was in active addiction. But she was here, on this earth, where I could drive to see her. We would plan to meet before the actual day. I’d pick up lunch which was usually Chick-fil-A, maybe bring her some warm socks or a hoodie to be sure she wasn’t cold. Not this year. No socks. No Chick-fil-A deluxe sandwich with fries. Nothing. Which is why I have been pushing down the thoughts of all things holiday, every day, for weeks.
Last year Melanie was walking strong in her sobriety and we were able to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas together as a family. A first in 7 long years. We cooked all the family favorites, including baking my mom’s Italian Anise cookies and pizzelles. We laughed and yes, we even cried. I bought fun matching pajamas for all of us and took plenty of silly pictures in our matchy-matchy jams! I’m thankful for these memories and I’ll forever be thankful God gave us this time together. Yet, this doesn’t remove the missing and the sadness, knowing that she will not be here with us. It hangs there like a heavy weight upon my back. But, ready or not, here it comes. There is no stopping time and for the sake of the rest of my family members I am left trying to figure out how best to balance all of this. My little boy deserves a fun, happy Christmas and it is exactly what Melanie would want for him. I’m positive of this! She loved the holidays and she wouldn’t want me to be overwhelmed with sadness. So, I went to the place where I know I can go, day or night, and lay my heart on the alter.
During the early morning as I lifted this care up to my Heavenly Father, He reminded me of the parable in Matthew 6:26 – 34 about the birds of the field. My paraphrase, “if God cares about the birds and the flowers and grass, does he not care more about us?” The last verse is what really got me, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 MSG. For this year I have a new goal. I’m not going to worry about the fact that I haven’t bought one gift and I’m not going to worry about what we will or will not do. I don’t have any answers, but I’m going to do my best to trust in my Heavenly Father who cares so much more for me than the birds of the field. I don’t want to fear and I don’t want to worry. I don’t know what this year’s holiday season will look like without my girl, but I am certain of one thing – I’m going to place my hope and trust in God who will pave the way for me as He always has. Let the words to this song by Lauren Daigle wash over you, and as she sings, “Even when my eyes can’t see, I will trust the voice that speaks” may you begin to feel the strength of the One who can calm the storm and worries within.