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Friday, December 18, 2015

The Dark Days of December

Not every memory of December is a joyful treasure.

I'm learning to hold the darkness as a pointer toward the light.  The actual physical darkness is a challenge that I can overcome with adequate time in the sunshine, but the soul darkness often creeps in when I least expect it.  Illness. Separation from family.  Disappointment in relationships.  Lack of money for gifts, lack of finances for necessities. Pain of a child.  Unsolved problems.  Unfulfilled dreams.  Unresolved conflict.  Fear, stress, sadness.  These tug our hearts into un-merry territory.

I have enjoyed a season where I was able to let go of my holiday-expectations, and it was truly peaceful and joyful, even amidst the difficult and sad.  I've learned to allow my grief and discomfort to live alongside my joy.  For so long I believed that joy was only possible in the absence of all fear, sadness, disappointing.  What an awakening it has been to allow full expression of the melancholy to live alongside the merry.  Acknowledging one doesn't discount the other, as this article to skillfully describes.

If you find yourself edging a bit toward the melancholy or struggling to find sense of our abundance while others lack so much, accept the full weight of your thoughts and feelings.  It's a challenge for me to reconcile the greater world's view of Christmas next to the American commercialized version (wonderfully described here: O Holy Night).

But I will take my daughter to Christmas Tea and my son ice skating downtown.  We will enjoy an amazing Christmas concert and silly holiday movies.  We will decorate our home and wrap gifts, though fewer this year than in years past.  Along with this, we will hand out "Helping Bags" to the homeless people who we pass on our way to church, and take the time to invite them to come along with us (no one has accepted that offer, yet).  I have been more intentional to shop in ways that may contribute to welfare of those seeking to improve their lives: Mercy House, Ethical Chocolate, Scarves.  I sent something special to a single mom who may not have others that think to purchase for her.  We acknowledged our often-overlooked traffic officer at school and tried to overtip a waitress.  We don't get it all right, but we are trying to notice those who may be overlooked this season.


By the end of the month, I will have attended concerts and funerals, traveled through seven states by car, visited with family and missed others.  We will open gifts and we will pray for those without.  It's a lot of highs and lows all jumbled together.  No wonder December often leaves me overwhelmed and a bit undone!  Yet daily, I find peace within through remembering the promise -

Free vintage postcard images:
I hope your December brings much joy, deep peace and hope fulfilled that you may have never expected.  If you find yourself dealing with darkness when you expected only light, don't be afraid to allow that full expression.  Merry Christmas, and much joy to you and yours!

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