"Let Go" to "Get Through"
the Sacred Holidays
~by Tommy and Angie Prince
"Letting Go" of our traditions amidst the sacred holidays has saved us.
It seems the way to "get through" the sacred holidays is to "let go"!
For example, we tried to do our regular traditions during the sacred Christmas holidays of that first year of having just lost Merry Katherine just 4 1/2 months before. We wanted to keep things as "normal" as we could for both our grieving sons (and for us as well). We did change rooms, from the living room to our more informal den, from where we had celebrated consistently over these many years of our children's lives, celebrating around the Christmas tree, opening presents from "Santa" and from one another, etc., but we continued with a fairly big Christmas celebration along with our usual focus on the nativity story from the Bible, singing Christmas hymns around the piano (or pee-nan-nee-o as Merry Katherine had always called it as a young child), and sharing our lives with one another as we shared our hearts, etc. So, for that first year, we continued with our normal traditions of putting up the Christmas tree, adding all the lights, and all the ornaments, and spreading presents around underneath the tree.
"But when I pulled out the stockings, I ran across Merry Katherine's stocking first, and cried for two hours. Then I ran across her "spinning ballerina" ornament that she just loved, and that was another good hour of crying... So just putting up and decorating a Christmas tree was traumatic."
Last year (4 years later), in contrast, we put up our usual manger scene and candles, but put up only a simple artificial tree with lights (just the twinkling lights alone are such a comfort for Angie), and then used only our hand-made Biblical "scarlet-thread-through-the-Bible"* ornaments that we had made together with our children when they were small, and that was all the decorations we had. So sweet.
*"Scarlet-thread-through-the-Bible" ornaments are the ornaments we made which represent the genealogy of Jesus through which God worked to show His salvation plan through "signs" and "shadows" of what was to come, all of which were to be fulfilled through the coming birth, life, death, resurrection, and second coming of His Son Jesus Christ. (We will have to share more about this later. It is a really sweet tradition that we have so many fond memories of as our children would read aloud what each ornament represented in pointing toward Jesus, and their antics were such humorous memory-makers for us, as well as the ways the gospel penetrated their souls through these repetitive reminders of God's loving grace toward us through the centuries before us are so touching in retrospect.)
So in other words, our "salvation" in staying "sane" through the sacred holidays has been in more and more "letting go" of the more pagan traditions of Santa Claus, elaborately decorated Christmas trees (Angie loved to have one in almost every room of our house if she could!), and all the other "hoopla" that surrounds such magical thinking, and returning to the MAIN reason for a true celebration ~ and that is
For unto you today is born a Savior which is "Jesus Christ our Lord," ~ the Christ-Child who is "Emmanuel," "God-with-us."
Note: While writing this post, we each were majorly triggered in different ways. Our faith in God and our feelings of comfort from God are such basic foundations to help us endure our loss of Merry Katherine, and in learning to function again after her loss. Such major triggering is evidence that God our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, as well as the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts today are the CORE to who we are, who our children are, where our child Merry Katherine IS right now, and so, any tampering or even talking about such sacred subjects can easily bring us to our knees in pain and angst as well as reach through to soothe and comfort our broken hearts in a way that no other force in this world can even begin to touch...
So far this year, we have up only a tiny little artificial tree with lights and trinkets scattered through it, but a massive Advent wreath with candles and beautiful angels surrounding it (along with a beautiful paper mache angel Merry Katherine had made in Girl Scouts), surrounding the nativity scene, which is also surrounded with miniature palm trees and all the pertinent worshipping shepherds, animals, and wise men. So far, so good, but we've four days to go! Holding on, hoping we can continue to "let go"!