The First Christmas Since…

Through the window, blue and white lights twinkle. Tinsel throws glints across the curtains and turquoise and silver balls shimmer. I love looking at our little tree – a live one this year. The kids love to look at it as well. There is something magical and beautiful about it. Christmas is special. You spend time with family, you give gifts, you eat ridiculous amounts of food.

But Christmas can be bittersweet for some. As I look around, I think about the many firsts it could mean:

The first Christmas since your mom passed

The first Christmas since your parents separated

The first Christmas since you married and now have to split your time between families

The first Christmas without the child you lost

The first Christmas since a diagnosis of cancer or other terminal illness

The first Christmas you don’t get a “Christmas break” and have to return to work

The first Christmas without your brother because he’s serving in the military

And it’s not just the first Christmas that’s hard – it’s the many holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries after that we also need healing, need love, need tears.

So in the midst of the glitter and glam, the carols and snow, the candy and the gift giving, remember those people who are struggling with Christmas.

I know sometimes, it’s hard. We think it will be awkward or draining, emotional or heavy.

Maybe so. But most things worth doing are hard. Here are some simple but meaningful ways you can help:

Pray for them

Pray for strength and healing. Pray for comfort. Pray that God can use you as an encouragement

Talk about their loved one

With babies, out of sight is out of mind – but it’s not that way when you love someone and lose them. Sometimes, the best way to grieve and grow closer to the people we have around us is to share those beautiful memories – the funny ones and the sweet ones. To talk about the person we all miss.

It’s cathartic and relieving. It’s a double blessing – not just for the widow (or mother or whoever) to share their memories – but for them to know that YOU love and miss that person as well. There will be tears but there will also be a bond, forged through love and shared heartache.

Find something practical to do for them

Sometimes, holidays make it hard to function because there are so many unknown triggers. The snowman that plays music and reminds you of your mom, singing and dancing around the living room. The smell of cookies that your son used to eat straight out of the oven. The crinkle of wrapping paper that sends you back to childhood.

It’s hard to function like that, let alone get anything done. So to have someone bring by some lunch or drop off a giftcard or even to say, “I’ll go with you to Christmas shop, if you want some company” is a great blessing indeed. Because, although you can’t make it “better” – you can hold their hand as they walk through this valley. You can help lift a burden and be the hands and feet of Christ.

So this Christmas, remember those who are struggling. And take time to count your own blessings and hug your own loved ones a little tighter. Our biggest gifts can’t be bought with money – but they are priceless nonetheless.



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