This has to be the hardest time of the year for me. We have a beautiful tree we put each year, and on it some very special decorations, as most parents probably do. Ornaments created in Sunday School or VBS or 1st grade. Ornaments given by grandparents or ones we bought to put their picture in. Sleds made from popsicle sticks with their name written on them. A few given by friends to commorate a trip they took. One of my favorites is a Green Bay Packers football player, glass, hand painted that we bought when we were the beneficiaries of a wonderful trip to Green Bay and Lambaugh Field. Brandon had been promised a trip with his family, by Brett Favre, Bart Starr Jr. & Sr. Brandon had met Brett, courtesy of Paul Finebaum and Bart Jr. And Brett told Brandon he would see to it that we would get to come up there. On the evening before we were to leave on an early September Sat Morning, Brandon's neck broke and the trip was cancelled. A year later, after Brandon has passed away, Bart Jr. called and asked if we were still open to going, this time in Brandons memory. We made the trip, had tickets (Bart Jr's personal seats) to a game, got to go snow mobiling, and felt Bubba with us every step of the way. We bought that ornament in Lambaugh's gift shop.
It's also time to hang stockings. That's pretty hard, too. Janell does monograming and each son and each daughter in love, and each grandson have one that she has specifically picked out for them, and lovingly put their name on it. Janell hangs them because I can't. Three of them are empty this year. Then there is the photo ornament from when we took our two "kids" to Disneyworld (along with the one daughter in love). Better late than never. But there we all are, with the castle in the background.
I cannot imagine how folks that have lost loved ones that were not Christian, or are not Christians, deal with the separation, especially at this time of the year. I can so easily see how depression can creep in and cause problems. Were it not for the blessed hope and promise I have that Jennifer, Garrett, Brandon, JayMomma and Pop are all together, in the presence of each other and The Gift of the Ages, their Savior and mine, I honestly don't believe I could function. Prayers arew a tremendous help, and I thank God for each one said for me and mine. But there is still that hole, that immense hole, that can never be filled. Yes it heals up, but it's a scar. It's never like it was. I have new friends this year that I didn't have last year. I am most undeservingly blessed to be a fractional part of people He has called to be in ministry. I have friends that have come back from my past, some I had forgotten, yet a couple that I have never stopped loving since we were kids, just now in a different way.
I believe that those in Heaven can see us and what we enduring here on Earth. After all, they have been made "like Him" and He can see us. So when tears come as I look at a stocking, remember a smile or a special moment, or look upon my grandsons or the son who has become such a great DAD himself without a real good role model, or tears come when I look at a wife and mom who has endured much more than most moms ever have to and still does for others more than herself; I hope that those watching from Heaven understand they are tears of happiness. And I bet they shed some themselves. After all, John 11:35 says "Jesus wept".
I sincerely hope that each one who reads this experiences a loving, happy and blessed Christmas. And if anyone reading has not received the Gift of the Ages I spoke of earlier, please message me. I'd be honored to share the story.