When Christmas brings sadness

When Christmas brings sadness December 27, 2013

Peace and blessing on this Fourth Day of Christmas!

The Christmas dust is settling in our home.  We are having a wonderful holiday with family and friends.  With the hustle, bustle and wonderment of four kids and many visiting cousins, we feel blessed beyond measure (and perhaps slightly deficient in sleep).

I am thankful that our Christmas season has been filled with great joy.  I have been reminded several times over the past month, however, that the Christmas season is hard for many of our family members, friends and neighbors.  It is easy for me to forget that reality amidst the twinkling lights, preparing and cleaning-up, and festive occasions.  Advent is a wonderful time to reach out to hurting loved ones and neighbors, and so are the Twelve Days of Christmas.  After all, many of us have children who are out of school, and parents may have lighter work or schedule obligations.  Beginning this year, I want to make an intentional effort as a family to build time into our Christmas schedule for three groups of people for whom the holidays might bring a bit of sadness.

The Elderly: My 92 year old grandmother is homebound.  I realized during Advent that visits from family members were growing less frequent because of all the holiday preparations.  Since she was unable to attend my kids’ Christmas sing-alongs, we decided to pick a few days leading up to Christmas to go caroling at GG’s house.  We brought our jingle bells, some cookies to decorate, and some Christmas art projects.  The kids loved getting to lead the carols from their Christmas shows.  GG loved it so much she had tears in her eyes.  We’re planning to make a few trips to her house over the next two weeks during the Christmas break.

Parents who have lost a child:  The Christmas season can be an annual reminder of loss for families who have faced the death of a child.  Friends who have lost a baby tell us that handwritten cards or other memorials of their child during the Christmas season is a welcomed way to show support and love.  We have put dates on our calendars to remember these loved ones year after year, knowing that the pain of losing a child doesn’t fade with time.

Those without family: We are blessed with large families with many gatherings over Christmas.   I realize I can forget that many people have no one to celebrate with them.  Our neighbor is single and lives alone.  We live next to a university where sometimes students are unable to travel home for holidays.  Our family gatherings are hectic and far from perfect, but they could certainly offer room for one or two more at the buffet if an invitation was extended.

I am interested to hear other groups of people that you remember in a special way during Christmastime.  The poor and the sick come to my mind as well.  We can always grow in our compassion and generosity, and this season provides a wonderful chance to do just that.   Thanks be to God for our Savior in the manger and our opportunity to share His love with the world.

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  • Katrina

    Thank you for these reminders, Queen B. I love the idea of making extra visits or phone calls to the housebound during the busy Christmas season. I hadn’t ever thought about the fact that they probably get less attention from regular visitors during the holidays. If you send Christmas cards to friends and family, this would be a good opportunity to write a little hand-written note to those who have lost a loved one…We have appreciated Christmas ornaments with our daughters’ names on them – they are a special reminder when we pull them out of the box every year. You could also offer to accompany friends or family to the cemetery, as many families make these visits during the Christmas season.

  • buildingcathedralstexasmommy

    Thank you, Queen B! I think you sound a lot like Pope Francis here! These are beautiful suggestions to share the joy and love of Our Savior’s birth with those who have much suffering. Our homeschool group sings Christmas carols and brings homemade cards and cookies to a local nursing home and it is such a joy for all!

  • Juris Mater

    Queen B, your post totally inspired me. Guess what–we had a rainy, dreary Sunday with no plans after Mass, and our family took candy canes and sung carols at a local nursing home. We came away twice as blessed as the elderly residents were by our time with them. As a mom of many, I often feel a little left behind or outcast, like we’re in everyone’s way when we leave the house. We’re slow, messy, dependent. It was SUCH a tremendous blessing to be so loved and appreciated by those older people, and they asked us to come back even every week if we’re able. I think little people and elderly people really have to stick together in this world, and we were so blessed by our visit today. Thank you again for the inspiration!

  • The Black Sheep

    As a single person, I’m always appreciative of those who invite me to share a holiday with them. I’m part of a subset to the “those without family” group, and that is those such as myself who do have family, but a family that is so fractured and distant (literally and figuratively), that that person is, for all practical purposes, alone. I could die tomorrow and my family largely would not care. In fact, given a major dispute between my sister and me, I am serious in saying she’d be relieved.

    On the flip side – and, quite ironically – I prefer to spend Christmas alone. There are many of us who feel that way for one or more reasons. Some, including myself, have memories only of Christmases filled with family troubles, resulting in a built-in dread of the holidays and a desire not to partake in them; others, single or not, are in some sort of pain that would only worsen by having to put on a happy face.

    Nevertheless, your extending an invitation to folks like us, even we decline that invitation, means the world to us. It affirms that we still count, to someone at least, even if our emotions prevent us from joining you.

    For those of you are kind enough to think of us single people (who are usually overlooked) and those others who are hurting due to loss, age, etc., I say God bless you and thank you for your generosity in whatever way you try to include us in your holiday celebrations.

  • This is a lovely reminder. Thank you.

  • Bethany

    I love all of these thoughts–thank you, Queen B! We do our annual caroling at the nursing home and always have such a fantastic time. Like Juris Mater suggested, I need to be sure to remember these groups of people all year long. I know places like the food bank can get completely overrun by kindness during the holidays and then forgotten during other times of the year. I am inspired to be ever-mindful!

  • Queen B

    Wow, JM, that is so cool. Glad you made the most of your Sunday in such a beautiful way! Love to you all.

  • Queen B

    Black Sheep, thank you for sharing your perspective and your encouragement. It is helpful to know that an invitation might be appreciated even if the invited chooses to be along for the holiday.