To Those Who Struggle to Feel the Merry This Christmas

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Yesterday morning while my house slept, I jumped in my car and drove the 15 minutes to Target to buy cold medicine for my daughter. She woke up coughing at 1:00 am and I gave her the last dose of cough medicine in the cabinet. While I had ordered more, at about 6:45 am, I realized that my partner, Stu, would not have time to pick it up (he works from home and the girls would be home with him that day.) Anyway, as I drove through the darkness on route 29, the sting of missing my dad crept up on me.

My dad loved Christmas. I remember him telling me that wherever he moved to a new house, his first thought was, “Where should we put the Christmas tree?” I remember the funny voice he made when I was little and he would look at me and say, Krista… Merry Christmas!” My mind wandered to the nights he stayed up with me when I was sick as a child (which was pretty often) and suddenly I burst into tears.

I pulled myself together, walked into Target and headed to the cash register. After joking that the register needed a minute to wake up, the sales person looked at me and said, “It just doesn’t feel like Christmas this year.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these words this year. Maybe it is because we are all so exhausted emotionally and mentally. Maybe it is because life is filled with so much uncertainty: do we gather or not? Do we travel or not? Either way, I have been thinking a lot about the season coined “the most wonderful time of the year.” As Amanda Doyle said during a recent episode of the podcast, We Can Do Hard Things, it is really “The MOST time of the year.” The most light, the most food and drink, the most expensive and the most emotional. In fact, like alcohol, this season seems to heighten whatever feeling we are feeling. Whether it's the baby's first Christmas or the first year when divorce means spending the day without your children, this season carries a full spectrum of emotions.

As a teacher, I have struggled this season knowing that an abundance of gifts will greet some of my students tomorrow morning while others will face another day of isolation and loss. The promise of Christmas that commercials and media pump into their lives leave them feeling angry and acutely aware of the haves and the have nots.

So, what is one to do? My answer:

1. Give: What brought me the most joy this season was shopping for a student in my class. I loved walking around the store, holding up shirts and wondering if she’d like them. After all, isn't giving to those in need what this season is all about?

2. Connect: I plan to mail cards to those students who will spend their time alone this break. Letting people know you are thinking of them is so meaningful.

For those of you who carry the sting of the missing and struggle to feel the “merry” this Christmas:
I see you
I hear you
I hold you in my heart.

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