Sunday, December 17, 2017


(I can't come up with a better title, and elves are supposed to be magic anyway, right?  So that's that.)


If you're going to be in public dressed as an elf, you'd best be prepared to smile and wave, don't ya think?  Seems practical enough.  Seems like something you'd anticipate, prepare for, consider thoroughly as you decide whether or not going into public as an elf is even a good idea.


I'm sometimes impulsive.  Sometimes, I make decisions without thorough consideration.  Sometimes, without even a little common sense, it seems.

This doesn't always matter (to me) or bother me once I'm pumping gas in front of Walmart dressed as an elf.

But this year.
This year is different.

I recently had this really bright idea to start my very own hashtag for the 25 days of Christmas.  It's been easy enough to have a post for every day so far.  ...but every day, we get closer...

Christmas-time is a thing for me.  I don't know if I know very many people ~ I know a few ~ who move through this season unaffected.  Excepting the few, it seems to me that people either love the Christmas holiday or they're miserable and just praying to get through it.  (I suppose there's a whole third group of folks who are just stressed to hair-loss about buying gifts and time with family and cooking, etc. ~ but that's a whole other post that somebody else can/will write.)

It hasn't always been this way, but if I'm going to tic toc, it's likely going to happen during the end of each year.  I've lost a lot of folks during this season ~ literally, figuratively ~ and then, concerning some folks ~ my dad, for instance ~ it doesn't matter when they left, their absence is always a heavy mantle this time of year.

*Important note:  so far, what I've written looks and feels like a heavy mantle!  Who would want to read this, and especially at Christmas?  I promise, though, that I set out with a positive notion, and I intend for this to be a tapestry in the end - one that evokes positivity, willful endurance, hope.  If you've made it this far, then please bear with me.  It really does get darkest just before the dawn!

Last Christmas Eve was the first anniversary of my sister's going home.

(That's enough, really.  I could stop right here, save this as a draft, and walk away.)


It's probably only been within the last decade that I've found zeal, joy, and a celebratory mood for this season.  Certain life events, having grandkids ~ experience has taught me:  appreciate every single moment.

Last Christmas Eve was important.  This one, even more so.  And Christmas Day ... this is all I have to say about that.


Some of my favorite bloggers write very practical bullet lists ~ "do and don't", "how and why", "who and who not" ~ and I've learned from and been inspired by many such posts.  So much that I thought writing one here and now was the most appropriate approach to making my desired point(s).

However, in discussion with a very important friend the other day, speaking about loss and grief, she said, "You really and truly can't tell people how to get through it.  People just have to do it their own way."


And so, I'm not going to write a "This Is How To Get Through This Season If You're Grieving Or If You Just Plain Hate Christmas," bullet list.  What I'm going to do instead is share my personal experience and manner of coping through this season.

There are things that I do that are critical to my... well, plain out surviving this time of year.  This will not be an inclusive list (remember, it's actually not a list at all), but following are some of my most important practices to maintaining health and sanity, especially right now.

I burn incense.  I said that to someone recently, and she responded that she "went through that phase."  It continues to baffle the dickens out of me what she meant by "that phase"!  Pish tosh.  Burning incense is serious business, more crucial than that whole transcendental meditation stuff that I learned in 3rd grade.  For one thing, my dad did it ~ had all these special little dishes for his cones.  I use sticks, but still have a thing for the groovy burners.  Obviously, it reminds me of my dad in the most positive way, but it really is also part of my meditation practice.  Meditation, for me, is quiet contemplation.  Prayer.  Being still and listening for the quiet voice.

I make myself go into public places.  (*There are times, as aforementioned, that I need to be alone, and that is OKAY.)  Going into public is a little more necessary now that I have a job away from home, so what I mean is that I don't just go out.  I also mix in.  I intentionally interact with people, and most especially with people who are my friends.  Many years ago now, after one of my most traumatic experiences, I had a period of time in the desert.  It was ten years later that I lost my dad, and even having learned the danger of withdrawing, I descended for about three years into one of the darkest periods of my life.  It still scares me when I read journal entries from that time.  Now, whenever I want most to crawl into a hole, I try my hardest to be present with people.  Friends, especially, can draw you out, distract you with joy (in spite of circumstance, and that is OKAY), and hold you up when you feel like sinking.  Remember, talking with a friend is why this is not a bullet point post, thank Jesus!

I believe in Jesus.  I find my hope and greatest sustenance in my relationship with him.  Sometimes, I wonder if people wonder how it is that I can go into public dressed as an elf these few short months after losing my grandbaby.  I sometimes wonder about it my own self.  But the answer is simply and always Jesus.  I know that some folks don't believe.  I know that some folks don't believe it can possibly be enough.  But this is my experience.  Jesus sustains me.  He is my truest friend and he holds me up when I feel like sinking.

The last months of the year can be a really tough time for a whole lot of people.  I am among them.  One way or another way, you'll likely see a number of articles, bullet point lists, whatevers about how to cope or how to help someone else cope through this season.  I've told you just a few of the ways that I get through.  I pray that each of you will find your way and/or help someone else to do the same.

I have eight days left to finish what I started. 
As I draw closer, I wonder more about how I'll do it. 
But I know I'll do it. 
I'll do it even if it's awful. 
And it won't be magic. 

In spite of circumstance, in spite of loss and grief, Christmas is still about the birth of Jesus.  I pray to be neither trivial nor trite about the hardships and hurt that other people are experiencing, and pray, sincerely, fervently, that we can all see through it all the way through.

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