Tis’ the season, right?
How many of you wish people giving thanks would just hush and the sound of holiday cheer would just go away?
I would have been the first one with my hand in the air if asked that in 2005, maybe even in 2007, perhaps even in 2008… and surprisingly (or not) enough, I still have my moments today!
Today is “Black Friday!” My all time favorite day of the year! (Excluding anything to do with my boys and my family, of course)
This is a day me, my mom and my two sisters leave way before dawn and come back when we cannot fit another bag in the vehicles we are in. Literally, I think we train all year long for this one day of shopping! We are “those” people that shop until we drop and we are those people that have to buy another pair of shoes that afternoon to make it through the rest of the evening and night! This is like the super bowl for us girls. Lots of memories, laughs and tons of shopping bags! (Side note, we do not wear pajama pants shopping ladies!)
November, 2005, I made it through my first Thanksgiving without Matthew. I proceeded to follow our “tradition” of shopping on Black Friday, as best I could. I didn’t want to let a year go by without being in that moment with my sisters and my mom, especially after what I had just experienced losing Matthew and almost losing my life. So I just held my breath, grabbed the pain and went. I wasn’t really “present” though. I was just an empty shell. I was physically still very sick and just making it one moment at a time.
As I look back on all of the years of spending this special day with my favorite girls, I can remember so much about each year, except for this one. My only vivid memory is migrating to the Hallmark store alone while my sisters were next door… I wanted a breath of silence to tune out the holiday cheer all around me… please know that if you want to tune out holiday cheer, Hallmark is not the place to do it! You can clearly see I was not thinking straight.
I found myself in the corner looking at a little white plush lamb. I picked it up and it was so soft and beautiful, and it played music! I quickly winded it up to see what I would hear. As I stood there the melody of ‘Away in a Manger’ played softly. Tears burst from my eyes and I knew I had to take that lamb home with me. My sister spotted me in the corner and when she approached me I handed her the lamb and twenty dollars and ran out of the store. I am not sure if I spoke another word the rest of the day. But I know at the end of that night, my empty arms were holding something and that comforted me.
I am not sure where you are in your season of missing your little one, or what traditions have been like with you and your family before your loss, but if you can find a small way to participate in anything that you once did, maybe you will find some comfort in that at the end of the day or perhaps even standing in a corner somewhere like I did.
I still hold that little lamb occasionally, but to be honest, when I listen to the melody I go right back to that corner in Hallmark and feel it all over again. Over the years I have learned that the best gift I can give myself is grace when I feel pain and embrace it rather than pushing it away. I know today, I will walk into that same corner of the Hallmark store, just like I have done every year since and remember when…
And as I stand in line to purchase our 2012 family Christmas ornament, there will be a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes just like the very first time. And that’s okay with me… grace, grace, grace.
I hope you will give yourself the gift of grace this holiday season. And if you are a loved one of someone who has experienced loss, I know grace cannot be gift wrapped but it sure makes a beautiful gift.
With love and blessings… and loads of grace!