Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I could make a dramatic attempt and attribute my slightly…okay, ridiculously early Christmas decorating, to the result of recent circumstances.  Buuuut in an effort to be transparent, I will just confess that is absolutely not true.  I am just THAT girl.  I have always been THAT girl. (If I had been a lady in the eighties, you can bet that my Christmas knits would be ready for showing off.)  For those who are not already aware, I usually begin the merriment right after Halloween.  One year, I actually began putting my tree up on October 31 and sustained a pretty intense flesh wound. Many of my friends(defenders of all things Thanksgiving) considered it my consequence for such nutty behavior.  

Tonight is my second attempt(the first was a total fail) to return to my own home for the night since my father’s passing.  I had actually been staying with my parents for almost three weeks leading up to his death.  For various reasons, I decided to stay at my home for the night on Wednesday, September 17. He crossed over into Glory early Thursday morning.  

So tonight, I am back here at the bachelorette bungalow with a goal of staying the night. It’s really not that I have ever minded staying alone.  My first “adult” apartment out of college was a studio space in a city 3,000 miles from home.   To be honest I’ve really been quite prideful in in my “Miss Independent” lifestyle.  But well, everything changed in the blink of an eye.  

I have been told I need to find a new normal.  Well, I am not even close to knowing what “the new normal” will be as I am still trying to stay afloat in the, well, um, pool of shit.  (I have cussed more in the last six weeks than my whole life.  Scratch that.  Not true, but it helps to justify to my mother when I cuss in my blogs.) Crawling into my parents bed with my mother for the first two weeks after daddy’s death was the most comforting and safe place to be.  We cried during the night, held hands, and talked(although challenging with her CPAP mask-ha!) My mother and brother both encouraged me to “go home” one weekend, and as previously mentioned that was a complete and “total fail”.  So, I began choosing small victories—like moving upstairs to my childhood bedroom.  (Staring at my photos and decor that had been there since I was sixteen—-dear God, is this comforting or a form of hell?)  I decided to check the “victory” box.  Right foot. Left foot.  

If you read my last post, you may remember the “inevitable wall” I hit a few days ago.  That seems to be, so they tell me, when breakthroughs happen.  So today, I loaded up the Jeep(yes the same Jeep. my dear sweet 1999 Cherokee) and headed back to the bungalow.  Aside from the cobwebs and dust bunnies (if only I could convince you they were Halloween decor) my home was just as it had been Labor Day weekend.  But it was missing something.  Something very important.  It was missing Christmas!  So, sweet friends of mine, I have spent my afternoon gussying the place up for the holidays!  And you know what, it has brought me cheer!  Tonight is going to be hard.  Tonight I will hate going to bed because of worry, doubt, and fear.  But tonight I will go to bed thankful for my dear family(immediate and extended) and friends who have supported, loved, and ministered through the mess.  And I will huddle under my covers, peeking at the twinkling lights,  grateful for the Christmas season, new life, and the joy it will bring. 

I believe one of my favorite writers describes it best:

“I believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over. There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it’s in those seasons when I’m so thankful for Advent. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to this season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it’s been lost.”  Shuana Niequist