I’ve heard December called a month of Mondays. December does make me edgy. It seems like the month comes in like a freight train made of ice, complete with the blast of a whistle.
There is fretful anticipation of anxieties to come. One might make resolutions to not give in to the fear, to stay sane, to not spend too much or not eat a whole pan of fudge. But December has a power of its own that it’s hard not to bend to.
Each December brings the anniversary of the passing away of my daughter, Naomi. For a few Decembers after I would write a dirge about the night we lost her. It may have been therapeutic and even a good piece of writing. But it wasn’t necessary to share it with the world. What was worse was that I accompanied it with this attitude I felt entitled too. Depression and anger are an easy and even comfortable state of mind to slip into. At least in December, it takes more effort to hold my head up. Sometimes it’s very tempting to just relax and submit to the default down. I finally had a good friend tell me how I wasn’t doing anyone any good with that attitude, including Naomi. So last year I raised up my head and told myself that I was going to sail smoothly through this time. I was moving on. I would not indulge in the whole pan of the fudge of grief, where the first bite may make me feel better but after that I’m just abusing myself.
But my attitude was not one of triumph but denial. I had a better December than before, but it was still difficult. The feelings of grief come even if you don’t’ call on them. And so this year I am just going to be on my guard and accept the feelings as they come. It will be nine years this Wednesday the 7th since Naomi died in my arms on that cold night. As much as I like to think that I’m over it, it still hurts at this time of year. I don’t mean for it to, but it just does.
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t get at least a little stressed at this time of year. So it’s a good thing that we have Christmas to make the month of December the most wonderful time of the year right? Right? Oh wait. Is it really Christmas that is causing most of this stress? I can honestly say that if December 7th came and went then I would be okay a few days after. But the 25th draws it all out.
So the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus is the source of all this anxiety and stress? Looks like. But what would December be without Christmas or the holiday season at all? We might just have an awfully cold and dark month with no joy at all. But no holiday advertisements either. No untangling strings of lights, shopping lines, spending worries, and all the other pains of the Season to be Jolly. Would it be worth it to skip Christmas?
Each person must decide for themselves. But let me just remind you that imbedded in the memory of losing Naomi will always be the memory of people who make great efforts to take care of our family. Aside from prayers and words of love and support, we had someone knocking on our door leaving gifts for 12 days leading up to Christmas. Someone had added to their Christmas schedule more shopping, planning, driving to our house in the dark sneaking up and leaving the presents, knocking and escaping. They added holiday stress to their lives in order to bring a sliver of brilliant joy into a dark and hurting home. And the dark and the hurt eased away. To this day I don’t know who it was, but they were successful. They shared the joy of the season. And in doing that, they made the month of December worth it to them and to us.
Joy despite the pain and stress. Anticipation and thankfulness. Feeling God’s love expressed through others. And that’s what Christmas is all about.