Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love everything about it--the smells, the sights, and the sounds. Feelings run deep inside me when I begin to think about Christmas. There was always a magical feeling that I experienced. After all, it is Christ’s birthday! Could it be I’ve read too many Christmas books and seen too many Christmas movies? I admit that "It’s a Wonderful Life" is a favorite and I believe life is wonderful most of the time.
My husband had indulged my excitement and had contributed greatly to my loving Christmas. This past year my bubble was burst and I experienced a sadness that was almost too difficult to bear. I no longer thought life was wonderful. My husband had gone home to be with the Lord and I was alone at Christmas. Memories haunted me, and everywhere I looked I was reminded of our life together. Our traditions, which were special to me, were now all topsy-turvy. How could I ever get through my favorite time of the year without him? Only God knew. I determined, with God’s help, I could do this.
"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13, NIV).
I was not going to let my grief rob my family of Christmas. It was still Christ’s birthday! After all, because Christ was born and died on the cross for my husband and me, I had the assurance my wonderful husband was spending eternity with Him.
The easy part was determining what I was going to do to celebrate Christmas. Putting my plan into practice was much more difficult. Christmas did not have to be celebrated in the same manner. Some traditions needed to change, but some I knew had to stay or the meaning of Christmas would be lost.
I cherished the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Our family had always gone to the 11:00 p.m. service, lighted the candles, and sung "Silent Night" together. My husband and I had done this from the time we had started dating 37 years ago. I wanted to go to church, but nothing could have prepared me for that evening. It was truly my favorite time… I loved hearing how Jesus was born (Luke 2). The angels, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, and the wise men seeking Him were all so important. I wanted to seek Jesus as well.
Neither of my children could go to the service with me, so off I went. As I arrived at the church my heart just sank. Everyone was there with someone--moms, dads, children, aunts, and uncles. Family is so important at a time like that. I mustered up the courage God must have given and managed to walk to the front door. Thankfully, at that moment, I saw a family I knew, and I managed to ask if I could sit with them. "Sure," they replied. It was all I could do to sit in the pew without crying buckets. Tears began filling my eyes, and down my face they rolled. It was almost getting uncontrollable. "God, please help me," I prayed. "I want to be here, I need to hear why we have Christmas once again."
"The Lord is near to all who call on Him…" (Psalm 145:18a).
I had no sooner whispered my prayer when the most marvelous thing happened. The little girl sitting right next to me--my Christmas angel--put her hand in mine and squeezed. It was as if God had given me the love I so desperately needed. In that one moment, I realized the angels that sang on that night many years ago at the Savior's birth still come and minister to us today. God let me know, in that tiny squeeze, He was there for me and that He loved me!
"Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests" (Luke 2:14).