It’s 5 days until Christmas, and we are knee-deep in the bustle, gathered up with the Haines family to wear Christmas pajamas, to eat until we want to die, and then to unwrap gifts. It wasn’t long ago that we had two sets of great-grandparents here and all the aunts and uncles, too. But things change, don’t they?
Today I’ll walk around my mother-in-law’s house and touch the trinkets that used to be at her mother’s house. I miss Grandmom, the one whose red Chanel lipstick I still strangely keep in my makeup drawer. It has the press of her lips in it. And pressed into me, too, is the way she loved me, though I wasn’t born from her people. I married in.
In the early days of our marriage, we would dine in Louisiana on early morning smothered quail. Her linens were from travels to Europe. She taught me fancy things, and we shared a love of science fiction.
Recently I started wearing her big cross again, the one Granddad hung over my neck as if I had run through a finish line, but really it was Grandmom who had crossed over—on to her Jesus and her C.S. Lewis.
Things change, don’t they? The shape of things, how they were then and how they are now, it really stands out at Christmas time.
Titus is asking for an Iron Man Horsey this year, and I told him there hasn’t been one of those invented yet, and he said, “That’s okay, Mama. Santa Claus can make it.” His three oldest brothers never spent a second believing in Santa Claus, but this time around, with our Titus, we’re all letting him believe. We don’t call Santa a lie anymore how we used to. We’re in the shape of wonder these days, too.
Isn’t it strange how missing can hit you at Christmas time, how a smell can bring back a song, how cinnamon throws me into my own Mamaw’s kitchen where I’m ten years old, drinking from oatmeal glass, “spiced tea” made with well water.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the tension, the tightrope slung between sorrow and wonder, lament and a proclamation of JOY.
As you wander the halls at old photographs and smell the memories you’ve shoved way back, remember the tension in this glorious season of waiting. We aren’t there yet, folks, but He’s coming. Feel the sorrow of it all and whisper glory.Leave a Comment
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
It’s been three years since my dad went to be with Jesus, but each year as we shuffle furniture to make room for the tree in the family room, I move the chair that he usually sat in on Christmas morning. It’s funny, how like church pews, we all had our “assigned” seats to join in the festival of the unwrapping. I miss his dry sense of humor, his famous phrases and the sincere gratitude he showed for gifts that were picked out for him. I miss him…and yes, Christmas can be bittersweet. In it all I am thankful that we’re not there yet, but Jesus is coming…and so I wait.
Amber C Haines says
I think waiting is a bigger deal in faith than I had realized at first, but it’s worth it; I believe.
Melanie Vanlaningham says
My grandmother just went HOME to Jesus a few months ago. My heart longs to find words to describe her so that I don’t forget the precious way she touched my life. Words don’t come. I am so thankful for the pictures I have. I am also learning about the tightrope between sorrow and wonder, lament and joy. So blessed by God”s glory in it all.
Amber C Haines says
I am so sorry for your loss, Melanie. I think it’s important in this season that we are honest with our laments. It’s the very thing that begs Christ’s second coming.
Oh Amber, you eloquently summed up so much of what I am feeling and thinking this season. Beautiful. Thank you.
LISA MORELAND says
I’m remembering, as you are remembering…the sorrow with the joy. You have beautifully wrought words from the heart.
With my last, now 6, we also quit calling Santa a lie and it’s helped me find missing parts of my child-self.
No one’s been lost recently but it’s still a mourning Christmas for me. For what wasn’t, and what could have been, and for what will never be. There are still warm places though, under the honest reality, and I’m making my way to them.
Thanks for the love and the honesty in this piece Amber!
This has been one of my favorite readings for Christmas. Thank you.
Terri Jennings says
Amen and Merry Christmas!
Amber thank you for reminding us we have permission to feel the range of emotion that this season brings.
Kristen Strong says
I was just running my fingers over my grandma’s wooden cranberry garland, reliving memories of her–Christmas ones and everyday ones. As you say so well, the missing can indeed hit hard at Christmastime.
Grateful for the words you put to the emotions, Amber. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Taylor Arthur says
Amber, I loved this. My family and I are just driving hours home after my husband’s grandmother’s funeral, and I have been thinking all the way about this tension you write about so eloquently. It seems the longer we live, the more goodbyes we say, the more I need to believe in his “coming.” Thank you! Merry Christmas!
Thank you…for gently taking the words in my head and the sentiments of my heart…and stringing them together so eloquently in this post.
The “tightrope slung between sorrow and wonder.” A perfect way to describe it.
Jamie S Harper says
Such a great post. Feels very Narnian.
Zoe is the same – the first of our three to believe in Santa and I have no idea why. But we’re going with it – we’re all a little caught up in the wonder of being three with her. I wouldn’t ruin that for the world.
Linda N says
This post really touched my heart. My family & I travel through this Christmas season without three precious loves – my mom & dad and my husband (dad of our two sons) have all gone home to be with the Lord. Knowing where they are gives us comfort & joy, but our hearts have huge empty spaces that ache for their presence. We walk the tightrope every day without them, but holidays are bittersweet. Thank you for writing such a tender & loving piece.
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you and your boys. May God meet you and give you a huge hug from me. I pray you feel His presence tomorrow and everyday.
Please help Linda and her boys. Give them your peace, grace and mercy. Shower them with a good Christmas with friends and other family! Be with them and comfort them always
Karina Allen says
This is exquisite Amber! There is so much wonder found in Christ during this season! May He be near to you and may you hear His still small voice whisper hope, peace and joy to your soul! I love you sister!!!!
Such a poignant, comforting post on how Jesus reconciles sorrow with joy. I love your words and your heart.
Thank you for this post! It warmed my heart and made me more confident again in my dream coming true of living in my Nana’s house someday not too far off… all those memories and how I love them so! How tradition is packed full of those that have gone on before us and those we will someday leave behind ourselves. Sharing things with my own grandson about the things I so enjoyed growing up. The circle of life does go on and it is a wonder to embrace it.
Beth Williams says
I lost my mother 5 years ago. She made Christmas special. We had French toast for breakfast and then opened the gifts she carefully wrapped.
This year a good friend is grieving the loss of her mother. Christmas will be hard for her and her step dad. It is made more difficult by her father being in rehab and not doing well.
So much sadness this time of year. Walking the tightrope of happiness, and sorrow. Waiting for dear Jesus to come again and take us all home!
Have a blessed Christmas!