I’m making Christmas cookies in the kitchen and suddenly a song comes on the radio and I’m crying into my cookie dough. It was Alan Jackson’s, Let There Be Christmas.
Last year I was visiting my son, Ben, his wife, Sarah and my granddaughter, Violet, in California. One day we drove to the Safari Park. Christmas lights blinked all over the grounds and Let There Be Christmas played over loud speakers. It was pretty magical.
This year, Ben is deployed on a ship in the Middle East, thousands of miles away. He was supposed to be home in time for Christmas, but his deployment got extended. Covid 19 prevents me from traveling to see Sarah and my sweet Violet this year.
I won’t deny that emotions rose as I listened to that Alan Jackson song. Funny how a song, a picture, or a smell, can spark a memory that hits us hard before we know it.
It’s okay to miss people, especially during the holidays. It’s okay to shed tears. Tears come from a tender place. God says He stores them in a bottle. I believe that. I believe they mean something to Him and that He knows, and understands, and cares.
And then there’s missing people we won’t see again in this lifetime. Both my parents are gone. My mom first and then my dad. The cardinal was always my mom’s favorite bird. Cardinals mate for life. When I see one, I know the other is not far behind. They make me think of both my parents.
The other day I walked through the woods in back of my house. Stopping to watch the stream, I caught a flash of red in my peripheral vision. Yep, a cardinal in all its crimson glory, flying to a nearby branch.
I said aloud, “What are you doing here, Dad? Checking up on me?”
I miss him still. My mom too. But I think about a scripture that says - “Don’t grieve like those who have no hope.”
It doesn’t say don’t grieve. Grieving and death are part of life. But don’t grieve without hope. What’s the hope? That I will see them again.
If you’re fortunate enough to be with loved ones this holiday, don’t take it for granted. Squeeze them tight with great, big, bear hugs. Drag them under the mistletoe even if they protest. Savor the time together.
Celebrate those who are with you. Hold in your heart those who aren’t. Merry Christmas, everybody.
I posted a picture on Facebook last night. It’s a picture is of my daughter’s Christmas tree that I helped her to decorate. Standing out is one pink decoration in a sea of blue, green and silver. It’s a Christmas ball that I painted for her last year.
One of my critique partners, Bonnie, commented on it.
“How lovely... it feels like a valentine to the tree, or a heart pulse of your connection. ❤️”
A heart pulse of your connection... I love that.
My daughter and I have been through a trying time this past year, causing a strain in our relationship. Healing called for a letting go of expectations and hurt, while taking a firm hold of forgiveness.
Relationships can be as fragile as glass and sometimes they crack. It takes patience, commitment and most of all, love, to mend them.
Humans are imperfect - every one of us. But perfection is pretty overrated and it’s not a hill I’m willing to die on. That brings me to some basic questions. Will I love you with all your imperfections, inconsistencies and mistakes? And will you love me with the same?
People are complicated but love is simple. It bears all things, believes all things, hope all things and endures all things. Here’s the kicker: it never fails.
So yeah, the intuition my friend had about the pink Christmas ball was pretty accurate. It stands out, a heart pulse of a deep connection that remains.
I thought I'd write a few thoughts on art, life and whatever else comes to mind.