Being “Merry” at Christmas

Every person has experienced grief in one way or another. It may be a result of a death of a loved one, friend, broken relationship, divorce, scary diagnosis, or lost job.

In a culture where events are in view one hour and at the bottom of the newsfeed by midnight, it seems that we are faced with ever-evolving happenings. So when something devastating becomes a reality in your own life…

Time. Seems. To. Stop.

It was 4 weeks ago. My Dad called me at 1:20pm on a Friday afternoon to tell me the awful news. It didn’t seem real at first. Kind of like a nightmare that you know isn’t true but you have to dream through it anyway… except it was real. It hit me hard. My Aunt Pat was gone. It was sudden and she was only 70.

Aunt Pat was very special to me and I loved her so much. She loved Jesus, her family, and her friends. Growing up a minute down the road from her, I have tons of awesome memories with her in them! She was like a grandmother to me, really.

I was able to leave work after hearing the news and started my trip back home to be with family. As I was driving memories with Aunt Pat began flooding my mind:

The frog candy jar;

Her cat “Pootie” that loved only her;

My “cotton candy” coat;

Making baby snowmen;

My first car “Rose” that she gave me;

Picking strawberries;

Funny Christmas socks and treasures;

Toys she brought for the kids at family reunions;

Porch conversations;

The way she looked out of her glasses;

The fancy tone in her voice when she answered her phone;

Her smile.

I stopped at a store on the way home to grab something and I remember the cheery lady at the counter. “Hi, welcome! How are you on this gorgeous day?”

I didn’t know what to do. My eyes were red and I was 2 seconds away from cracking into pieces on the floor. “I must not make a scene,” I said to myself. “I’m ok…” I said with eyes down and went ahead with the transaction. Poor lady looked confused. I’m sure she would have been sweet if I explained myself, but I just couldn’t right then.

Have you had something drastic happen to you and then wonder how in the WORLD everyone else is floating around with smiles on their faces? I know that’s the way life goes but when you’re in the middle of a tornado you just don’t see it that way.

It made me think. How many times do I greet people and they look down or maybe even give me a negative remark? Could it be they just found out something awful or had a frightening doctor’s appointment and are just trying to get through the next five minutes without breaking down?

Maybe when I wish someone a “Merry Christmas” this year they might not respond with the same. Maybe they aren’t completely “merry” this Christmas…and that’s ok.

I pray to be more understanding with the silent response and with my own. I need to give more prayers of comfort towards others. I know I wanted one at the counter that day.

So, in the season of celebrating Jesus’ birth, the sparkly lights, shopping, and busy schedules…take a minute, or even better, take a whole day or more to sit still and really be with the people God has placed in your life this Christmas.

And if someone isn’t quite as “merry” as you think they should be, it’s ok. In John 11, we see that even Jesus wept when his found out that his friend Lazarus was dead. Jesus was sad and he even had the awesome power to bring his friend back to life {which he did}!

There is JOY and LOVE in Christmas when you know the true meaning and believe it, even if you’re feeling sad. There is comfort in knowing I will see my loved ones again in heaven!  There is constant joy in having a deep relationship with Jesus our Savior!

Smile at a stranger this Christmas. Pray when you see a hospital or funeral home. Breathe in and out with full deep breaths. Give real hugs. Cherish the giggles of your children and/or nephews and nieces. Video tape (not just instagram) some of your family’s time together this Christmas so you can watch it in years to come. Believe me, you will cherish those.

If you’re near someone that may be sad this Christmas from a loss / hardship, recent or from years ago, and you aren’t sure what to do,  just really BE there with them. Listen. Smile. Call. Send a card. Don’t ignore them in fear of saying something wrong. Silence can sometimes hurt even worse. I know the prayers, food, hugs, calls, cards, and sweet messages my family and I received meant so much!

I also know my Aunt Pat would want me, and our whole family, to have FUN and laugh this Christmas! Do something to honor those that have passed this year. Keep moving forward and try to smile! Give yourself some grace too!

Experience life with your friends and loved ones that will soon turn to memories. Really look each other in the eye and be ok with feeling not-so merry, if you aren’t. Believe me, the time you spend with each other will be precious.

They won’t forget it… and neither will you.

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In loving memory of Aunt Pat

8 Comment

  1. Mandy,
    This is so true. Even though Jesus knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, the Bible says He wept. It think He wants us to know that it’s ok to grieve and be sad for the things we will miss. But in the end He wants us to hold on to the hope only He can give. Love and prayers still sending your way.

    1. Donna,
      Isn’t He amazing to show us that?! Thank you for your sweet words! I appreciate it!

  2. What a beautiful tribute to my sweet sister! Thank you Mandy much love to you.
    Aunt Sandra

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Aunt Sandra! Love you!

  3. Oh my goodness, Sis, I’m still crying and it’s hard to type this way! but I got to say this is a beautiful blog and we know Pat was reading over your shoulder while you were writing this.
    You certainly can turn a word here and there and such beautiful thoughts you expressed are truly a God given talent……My Hope is that many will read this and put your words of wisdom in their hearts and in their actions…..May we all help each other in our journey through life by giving a smile, a word, a kindness, a touch , a kiss, or just being there when someone may not be as cheerful as we would expect……keep up your encouragement.
    We love you very much.

    1. Ma & Dad,
      I am so glad that you enjoyed this blog post!! I was crying some writing it too 🙂 It is a pleasure and honor to get to share with everyone how fun Aunt Pat was and how much we all loved her! Thank you for your continued encouragement with my writing as well! I have received some sweet feedback from this article and it’s comforting to know that many people need encouragement as well! We are definitely not alone! Love you both so much!

  4. Mandy, this is so sweet and sad and true! It’s still hard to believe Aunt Pat won’t be at the Christmas party this year. Thank you for this thoughtful piece. It’s made me more mindful and I will take it to heart. Love you lots!

    1. Jan,
      I know, it’s really hard to believe and I’m pretty sure I’ll catch myself looking for her. You are so very welcome! Thank you for your sweet words and for reading it! Love you!

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