Monday, November 21, 2016

Christmas: Griefs and Gratitude

Christmas.  Where do I begin?

I'm am ever so very grateful and yet processing much grief this year as well.

Hannah, 2007
Every Christmas we've ever had as a family took place in that home.

With Benjamin and Hannah, 2009
While we believe Christmas is ultimately a celebration of the birth of Christ, 
as with many, it's also much more than that to us. 

Benjamin and Hannah, 2010
Each year, we began to establish new traditions, slowly gather our own decorations, and continue to determine and create what our family celebration would look like.

Hannah, Sophia, and Benjamin 2011
We grew as a couple, as parents, as friends, as family, and as believers.

Benjamin, Sophia, Daniel and Hannah, 2012
At least every other Christmas, we added another beautiful baby to the family.

(Daniel, in high chair), Hannah, Benjamin and Sophia, 2013
Our kids kept growing, maturing, and living sometimes crazy and even more often, plain old ordinary days.

Benjamin, Hannah, Sophia, and Daniel 2014
Life started to get a bit overwhelming when health issues began to mount and started plaguing the family.  I find it ironic that this picture somewhat shows that symbolically as our bottom row of lights went out on the tree that year.

Sophia, Hannah, Abigail, Daniel and Benjamin 2015
We had no idea 2015 would be our last Christmas in that home.  Just three months later, we would face the heartbreak of losing our home, our health and nearly every physical belonging we owned.

Our new tree (left by the previous homeowner) in our new home, with Sophia 2016
One of my absolute favorite things to do each Thanksgiving is to pull up all of the Christmas decor from our basement and begin decorating our home.  I absolutely adore listening to Christmas music, having the kids, somewhat chaotically help decorate the tree, and making the place "feel" like Christmas.  

I couldn't do that this year.

We had to part with approximately 95% of our belongings after health crises and toxic mold.  I'm choosing to wait until after Christmas to hit the sales to begin replacing our Christmas decor in this new season.  This year, we are appreciative that the last homeowners left a perfectly wonderful little pre-lit tree.  We were able to clean and keep our ceramic family ornaments and hung those.  All of our other ornaments and decorations will be homemade this year.  And truly, I'm okay with that.  We are creating new memories with those crafts.  I am not blind to the fact that we are ridiculously blessed, even materially. 

Family ornament collection as of 2016
What brings me grief are the special items and memories left behind.  Of course I will forever have those memories, and yet the suddenness of their loss is still something I'm processing.  After all, it hasn't even been a year since we left it all behind.

And yet I'm truly and eternally grateful.  Overwhelmingly so.

The Lord has returned our health, shown us countless ways He's blessed us, loved on us through community, provided for us financially, grown us in maturity and cared for us immensely.  In many ways, we feel like Job restored.

This Christmas is different.  It just is.  We will begin again in many ways.  In other ways, we'll just continue our journey.  So I share both my griefs and my gratitudes.  Thank you for caring for us enough to be a safe space for me to share.

Much love....

Until next time,