This time last year, I was preparing for a very different Christmas. One family member was no longer in the picture and my sons and I were in the midst of a lot of changes, including what our holidays would look like. I had accepted the fact that it would be hard--that we just needed to get through it. But amazingly, even in the sadness and feelings of loss, God surrounded us with His warmth and love. We received so many anonymous gifts that I made a point of listing each one so I wouldn't forget. As we let go of some traditions, God helped me see the beauty in doing things a bit differently. (For example, we spent most of Christmas Day on the train, so I set aside some cash to treat my boys to lunch in the dining car and saved one of their candy stocking stuffers so they would have something fun to munch on while playing games in the lounge.) The heaviness of knowing our Christmases would never be quite the same again mingled with assurance that God would meet every need. I am not exaggerating when I say that last year was probably the sweetest Christmas I have ever had. Never has Jesus felt closer or His love more tangible.
This year, we are having another very different Christmas. My youngest son and I just moved and my oldest is living on his own for the first time. We left a lot behind, including a few more traditions like performing in the choir Christmas concert and watching some of my favorite holiday classics. (Somehow, my copies of It's a Wonderful Life and the old BBC production of A Christmas Carol ended up in storage instead of with me.) Thankfully, big brother got time off to come down for Christmas and will stay through New Year, and we plan to make our typical Christmas Eve dinner of homemade pasta Alfredo with my parents. I am rediscovering the fun in watching church concerts instead of performing in them, and for the first time ever, my sons will have Christmas morning with Grandma and Granpa. Even in the changes, God is making this year sweet. It's just sweet in a different way.
Are you facing a different holiday season this year? Note how God reveals His love and goodness to you, even in the difficulty. Ask Him to give you many reasons to look back and see this year as different but good.
P.S. My son Nate took this picture on a day trip to San Francisco with my parents, one of my sisters, and two of her kids--another nice change we are enjoying: being with family.