As a child, visiting my grandparents on Christmas Day was special to me. While my grandfather never had many memories of celebrating Christmas as a boy since he grew up in various foster homes, he found ways to make the season joyful for his grandchildren. From the lights decorated on his small home in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To the toys, he and my grandmother bought for each of their grandchildren. Even to his tacky looking Christmas tree which was always over-covered in tinsel, Christmas was not only special to us as his grandchildren. But Christmas was special to him.
Now that my grandparents are gone, I find myself reminded of their absence, along with that of my mother, this time of year. I have a longing for what Christmas meant to my sister and myself as children. And for many others who have experienced loss, the Christmas season, along with the continued conflicts in our world, make seeking to recapture the gift of Christmas or trying to capture the gift of Christmas for the first time seem impossible.
Even though the Christmas season often serves as a reminder of the absences in our lives, this time of year should also serve as a reminder of a reassurance we receive from God. Reassurance for us that even amidst our grief, we will someday be liberated from our pain, find reconciliation, healing, and wholeness once again.
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God,”in Isaiah. “A voice of one calling: In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together.”
To those of you who are longing to recapture what the Christmas season once meant to you. To those of you who are reminded this time of year of the absence of loved ones. To those of you who are suffering from illness or loneliness. To those of you dealing with a difficult change in your relationship, in your family, and in your life. The gift of liberation, reconciliation, and healing will be given to us. And while it may not come bundled with the tacky pair of socks given to us by our favorite aunt this year for Christmas, it has been promised to us.
We may not experience it fully just yet nor will the feelings of what this holiday once meant to us may be fully restored. But what we do have until we receive this gift is reminders of this reassurance. Reminders of reassurance through reunification with loved ones. Reminders of reassurance through shared stories with family members and friends. Reminders of reassurance through sharing of meals with neighbors or even strangers. To even reminders of reassurance through miracles of reconciliation, love, and compassion in places where we least expect it.
As we find ourselves “in the waiting” to receive the ultimate gift we have been promised, may you find peace, comfort, and hope through these reminders of reassurance this Christmas season.