But this week my littlest has really been suffering from a severe cold. She can't breathe well. Her nose is so snotty, and I can tell she's just miserable, and she has shared her misery with her daddy and I as we have had to lose sleep rocking and comforting her in the wee hours of the morning.
Last night was no different than the pattern that she has established with this bear of a cold, but it was her worst night yet. I held her for over an hour as she just cried and whined. I think it was simply that she felt rotten and couldn't sleep. Honestly, I feel like behaving that way when I have a cold such as what she has!
So from about 4:30 in the morning until nearly 6:00 we had our own storm inside our home as the rain beat down on the walls and roof of our house.
That gives a lot of time for my mind to wander from subject to subject.
I knew that it was Christmas Eve, and I started thinking about what December 23rd was often like for me- torture. You see, Christmas Eve was more Christmas than Christmas was because that's when we would have my grandmother over. We would have some sort of meal (it always changed), and it was her greatest delight to celebrate our Savior's birth with giving gifts. I have yet to meet another person who takes such delight in gift giving, and she was good at it! My sister and I would get completely spoiled on Christmas Eve- as I believe all grandchildren should be. (I completely intend to spoil my grandchildren to the best of my ability and to God's glory.) So December 23rd was torturous, and then to top it off. Christmas Eve day was an absolute nightmare. To wait for that glorious moment when there would be a knock on the door and my grandmother, gifts in hand (or arms, or however she hauled in the loot) would arrive. That meant we could eat, and then we could open presents!
Every year, throughout my life this is what would happen on Christmas Eve. Even in my adult life, we would all gather at my mother's home for Christmas Eve and celebrate together. There are a few exceptions like when we lived out of state or when my grandmother was in Idaho when her mother died, but overall, I can count the number times when we weren't together on December 24th on one hand.
Today is another to add to the hand count, and that's why it's an exceptionally difficult day that I have not looked forward to. Circumstances this year are such that we will celebrate with my side of the family the day after Christmas, and I'm so grateful to still get together.
But it isn't the same.
At the early morning hours it hit me like the pounding rain outside, that it will never ever be the same. My grandmother will never be with me again for another Christmas Eve.
So I laid my sleeping daughter in her crib, and walked to the living room and let tears flow.
I guess this is how mourning is. Sometimes I will be fine, and other times I will just cry.
As I wept, I thought of how ugly this moment was. It was also sweet though. In the darkness of the early morning, with the rain pounding, I got a faint whiff of the delicious scent of our Christmas tree. As a tree is in your home, you get used to the smell so that you really don't smell it anymore, but every once in a while you get that breeze of subtle fragrance, and in that moment it came.
I was reminded of the season. I remembered my Savior born in to this world with pain and grief and loss. I breathed in both the sweet evergreen scent and that blessed truth and let it wash over me bringing comfort and joy.
Tidings of comfort and joy.
Christ's first advent gives me hope because my grandmother believed in him. I believe in him. That means that though she and I won't be together again on any more Christmas Eves, I will be together with her again in the presence of our Savior. Because he came, he made a way for us to be with him.
So I will go through the day today carrying grief in my heart marbled with comfort and joy. I made a special breakfast, and we will have a delicious late lunch. I will try to muster up some energy to do something semi-memorable with my big kids (I. Am. So. Tired.), and in the evening we will join our church family and worship our Lord. After the service, we will go out to dinner, and then at home, after we have read Twas the Night Before Christmas and our advent reading, my husband and I will have a quiet busy time after the kids are in bed. We will play the part of elves as we stuff our children's stockings and place presents under the tree.
I will choose to carry Christ's comfort with me as it carries me through today and always.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4