In my younger days I often heard stories about how Christmas was a sad time for many people in our churches. The season brought back memories of loved ones who were no longer alive. Those left behind felt lonely, and Christmas was no longer the joyous time it used to be. I have heard of many people, for example, who no longer put out Christmas decorations because they remind them of happy times in the past that they no longer have today.
I began to understand what those people felt when my mom died. She always loved Christmas, and every year we would take a picture of her bending over the tree to hand out presents. She was like a little kid on Christmas morning. She died over twenty years ago, but in our living room we still have a picture of her in a bathrobe bending over a Christmas tree. You can’t even see her face, just her backside. Christmas has not been the same since she went to be with the Lord.
I’m sure that many people reading this blog can relate to such feelings. You have your own stories. In fact, the sadness and loss you feel at this time of year may be much more profound than mine. In my case, the death of my mom took away some of the happiness of the Christmas season. But she had lived a fairly long life and was suffering when she died. Her death was somewhat easier for us to handle in light of such considerations.
The loss of another family member is harder to take at this time of year. My daughter Libby died three years ago. She loved Christmas. She had her own special Christmas tree that my wife set up for her each year. She died at a young age. Christmas reminds us of our loss.
Each Christmas, Libby would record on her DVR all the Christmas movies that came on television. These were all those corny Hallmark Channel movies. Trust me, there are a ton of these movies. They usually revolve around a nice couple meeting each other during the Christmas season, falling in love, and getting married. My daughter would record fifty or more of these movies every Christmas and watch them. Our DVR would be filled with these mushy “dramedies.”
We used to tease her about them. We would tell her that we saw a movie on TV that she missed. She didn’t record it. It was, “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Kisses Santa Claus Under the Mistletoe on Christmas Eve, Part 7.” In this particular movie, Santa Claus is a widower who owns a farm outside of town. He is lonely and looking for someone with whom he can share his final years. Dr. Quinn has never married but is looking for companionship. They meet during the holidays, get married, and live happily ever after. I have never seen that movie, but I know the script. When I told Libby about the movie, I thought it was funny, but I’m not sure she appreciated my attempt at humor.
Now, when I look at the guide on my TV to see what program options are available, it makes me sad to see those ridiculous, sappy Christmas movies on the list. Our DVR is empty. I wish it was full of those movies. When I see one, I always think, “Libby would love that stupid movie.” If I ever see a Christmas movie involving “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” I’ll have to throw my TV in the garbage.
I know some (many?) of you can relate to what I’m saying, even though the details are different. We have such great memories of Christmas. Even though sometimes these memories can bring some sadness because a part of our family is no longer here, we can smile at the same time. These memories are related to Christ’s birth, as we celebrate the first time He came to earth.
I just want to remind you of something you already know. The Lord is coming again. When He does, what memories will we form? We will have all eternity to make them. I am sure there won’t be Christmas trees to bend over. I am absolutely positive there won’t be any Hallmark movies (please). But there will be wonderful celebrations. The joy of every believer will grow as eternity rolls on. If we enjoyed the memories we made in this cursed world, what will those new memories be like?
We grieve the losses we suffer in this world. It is natural. But we don’t grieve like the world does (1 Thess 4:13). We know that the memories we believers will make after the Lord’s Second Coming will far exceed those we have made as we celebrated His First Advent. Death will be no more. Mom, Libby, and I will develop a whole new set of better memories. I need to remind myself of that when I see a Christmas tree or a Hallmark Christmas movie. Every believer, whatever your memories involve, can do the same.