1. Don’t skip Christmas.
I wanted to, but knew if I did I would still have to face it the next year, so I resolutely plowed in. I got the totes of decorations out of the attic, and for the first time in months our children (ages 23, 21, 19 & 10) sounded excited as they offered to help with the decorating. But a few minutes later I realized the room was quiet and everyone was gone. Glancing around I saw the family Christmas stockings had been pulled out of a tote, and there on top was a stocking that said “Dad”. One by one we faced each reminder of his absence head-on. I kept telling myself that it wouldn’t hurt as much next year, and it didn’t.
2. Bathe the season in prayer.
Ask your friends to pray too. Although your loved one’s absence is painfully evident in every moment of your life, others might not remember to pray. It’s okay to ask, and God is listening.
3. Ask for help.
Michael and I had an understanding about Christmas shopping. He bought the really ‘cool’ stuff —games, gizmos and gadgets. I bought the stockings and underwear. That first year I felt like a polar bear in the desert, having no idea how I was going to pick out ‘cool’ presents for the children. Then a friend asked if I wanted her to go shopping with me. I clutched at her suggestion like a drowning person grabs for a lifeline. Moral support, she was offering moral support!
Corinne was a beautiful woman, with a busy life of her own, but she dropped everything to go Christmas shopping with me. That night she gave me space, but offered suggestions. She was the perfect balance of not-too-much help and not-too-little. I found a few gizmos and gadgets, but even more I found what I needed most, and that was courage. I have never forgotten Corinne’s kindness to me—the kindness of moral support!
My friend if you are mourning, there are probably people around you who want to help, but don’t know how. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to go shopping with you, or help bake those cookies, or give a hand wrapping gifts. Moral support will carry you a long way.
4. Change things up.
We decided we couldn’t possibly do things the way we had always done them. In past years we had started partying on Christmas Eve, slept a few hours in the night, and then partied all Christmas Day.
Not knowing what else to do, we took a chance and invited several families to drop in for refreshments and fellowship on Christmas Eve. We were surprised to find that most of them didn’t start their own celebration until Christmas Day, and were glad to come to our house. That evening our home was filled with laughter and song, which was much better than the dreaded reminder of what we didn’t have.
A few years later one of my daughters came to me and asked if we could go back to having Christmas Eve the way we did before Dad died. This time there were boyfriends and girlfriends added to the mix, so it felt festive and cheerful.
If you know you can’t repeat the past, then do something different for the present. Pray for wisdom, and God will show you what to do.
5. Laugh a little.
The kids bought me a couple of comedy DVD’s by Ken Davis as gifts and later that afternoon we decided to watch one. We laughed, and laughed…. And laughed! Solomon said laughter works like a good medicine. Solomon was a very wise man.
As the sun set that day we commented to each other that things had gone a lot better than we had ever dreamed they would. God had gotten us through the dreaded ‘first Christmas’ with very few tears and with lots of laughter.
After that Christmas I quit dreading the next ‘special day’ that we would go through without Michael. God had shown me clearly that He is already in my tomorrow, making everything ready for my arrival, and He is doing it well.