As moms, we strive to set the tone for a memorable, even magical Christmas for our children. We understand the importance of the memories we are making with them. For many of us, the holidays usher in joy, excitement, and anticipation. For others, the holidays induce panic, stress, and maybe even the pressure for perfection.
There’s another side to the holidays – one that we don’t always talk about openly. Some of us don’t feel very merry at this time of year. How do we approach the holidays and find joy when our hearts feel quite the opposite? How do we teach our children to see God’s peace in those difficult times?
Growing up, I had many holiday seasons filled with happiness and it never even occurred to me that it could be any other way. However, as I entered adulthood, I lost my dad to leukemia. That first Christmas without him, when I was 21, I wondered if things would ever feel “normal” again. I married a few years later, and on one of our first Christmases together, my husband lost his job at a church. I don’t think I can recall a Christmas when we felt more stress or heaviness while attempting to figure out how to have a “normal” holiday.
My husband and I then experienced infertility. Every month, we faced our deep desire to be parents. I remember falling to my knees in prayer and tears and pleading for the opportunity to hold a baby in my arms. To simply be called Mom. Several Christmases came and went without a child in our arms. Every month was hard, but our struggle to conceive seemed even more painful at Christmas, a holiday so focused on a family that it became for me a bitter reminder of what I didn’t have but so desperately longed for.
If it is not death, job loss, or infertility you face, you may be dealing with something else that is overshadowing the holiday for you: depression, financial stress, a diagnosis, job loss, infertility, divorce, or a miscarriage.
I find comfort in remembering that the Christmas story is far from being merry and bright. Our Savior was born, true, but before that occurred a woman had to cope with the idea of being pregnant outside of marriage and a man had to hear the news that his fiancé was expecting and he wasn’t the father. Together they traveled under less-than-ideal conditions only to discover there was no place to have their child, the Son of God. The story of Christmas captures sorrow as well as the good news of great joy for us.
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”Matthew 1:21 ESV
I’ve found peace and hope during the many challenging holidays I’ve experienced knowing I have the promise of salvation and a Father who loves me more than I can comprehend. He understands my sorrows and longings and has sustained my husband and me at each step of our journey.
Tonight as I reflect upon the Christmas season, these are the things I would want my son, a gift from God after those years of infertility, to know. Whether or not we decorate decadent sugar cookies, have a tree with beautiful ornaments, or attend all the local Christmas events, I want him to always remember that there is hope to be found in the Christmas story – both the good news of great joy and in the dark, challenging parts, too.
About Chrissy Little
Chrissy is a mom and wife to her beloved husband and son. Her life as a mom has ranged from the warm climate of Florida to the freezing tundra of Minnesota. In each turn of her adventure, she strives to bring balance and authenticity to her family and those she encounters. You can catch up with all her pondering at https://lifeinthelittles.wordpress.com/