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.
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I thought I'd write a few thoughts on art, life and whatever else comes to mind.