Firsts are usually either exciting or filled with trepidation. The first day at school, or university. The first day in a new job.
In my first blog for a while, I find that I have a foot in both camp. The 1st of December heralds the first day of advent, the season we use to prepare us for Christmas. I love thinking back to that first Christmas (which I am aware didn’t happen on the 25th December), of the hope that entered the world through a baby. I enjoy reading what it might actually have been like, rather than the sanitised “nativity” that we see so much these days.
Many children, mine included will be relieved that they now have “permission” to start mentioning their excitement about Christmas for the first time this year.
Personally I have long struggled in finding a way to marry the “reason for the season” and the commercial aspect of Christmas. Without getting into a debate as to whether Christmas was originally a Christian holiday or a hijacked pagan festival, the fact is that Christians have been celebrating the birth of Jesus for centuries. I don’t have an issue with the gift aspect of course. One of my “love languages” is gifts. It’s the assumption that having the next big thing will bring happiness that is wrong in my opinion. There is only one gift that will bring true happiness.
Another first for us as a family is that this will be the first one we celebrate without my mum. It was just before Christmas last year that she told us of her diagnosis, but asked us to keep it from the grandchildren so as not to spoil Christmas for them. Mum always had others on her mind, but none more so than her 10 grandchildren and their happiness. She was rarely happier than when they surrounded her, running around and playing.
This first Christmas without her will feel very strange. The gap she has left is huge. If not for the support of friends and family, both near and far, and the certain knowledge that we will see her again we would unquestionably be facing the future with despair and dread.
We miss her terribly. We will remember her lots. We will talk of her often. As a family we share the faith that mum had in a God who loves us, who sustains us through the tough times. We know He is with us, helping, comforting us.
Whilst this is the first Christmas we have without mum, it’s also the first Christmas Mum gets to spend in the presence of the One whose birth made it all possible. Makes me a bit jealous………..