Several years ago – okay, many years ago (where in the world does the time go???) it was the holiday season. Being the oldest sister – I also was the first one to marry, and the first to have a child. Our beautiful baby girl Taylor. The whole extended family was together for the holidays down in the south Florida area and it was so special having a toddler with us! Then a moment of pure “dumb and dumber” struck. I will still never fully understand why 10 reasonable adults decided going to the outlet mall on the busiest shopping day of the year with a 2 year old was a good idea – but off we went! And it was a total zoo – exactly what you would expect.
Still we were having fun and enjoying it when ‘the incident’ occurred. I turned around and didn’t see Taylor. I searched the arms of all the relatives – no Taylor. My husband walked up. No Taylor. In a flash I forgot all the years of social conditioning to behave in public and I went into full mother fury melt down. After yelling a few choice words that I promise I’d never said in my life before that moment, I began barking orders and screaming for my child. She was recovered safe and sound only a few steps away in a variety store where something had apparently caught her attention – none the worse for wear. I however am permanently scarred. Not from the momentarily missing daughter (that was bad enough!) but more from my own horrifying behavior.
Understandable? Probably. And I dare say if a child is in danger any reasonable person will do anything for the safe return of the child! In this case – I very well know I over reacted. And still turn red remembering my outburst… But the loss – even tho only for a moment and with a happy outcome – was more horrific that anything I’d ever felt. As the pain of loss so often is.
And here at the holidays I look around my large family – I love the chaos and laughter and political debates and piano playing and laughter and singing and cooking and laughter and guitar playing and more laughter… I love every moment of it. And I know I am blessed beyond words. There are so many generations are present, the children have turned into teens and young adults and are now joined by the most adorable grandson ever on the plant. (No bias of course – Emme loves you Mason!!)
But – it is never ever very far from my mind that this “perfect” scenario is not something everyone gets to enjoy. And as much as I find the holidays to be so very precious – I know that so many find it to be far less enjoyable.
For those who have suffered loss, the holidays can be the most difficult of all times. Perhaps a loved one has passed on, perhaps a treasured relationship has been severed, or simply separated from loved ones by distance. A child has grown and moved away, a crib remains empty, a sweetheart hasn’t been found, a father is serving overseas…
For some the holidays are painful for financial reasons – wanting so much to give… while having seemingly so little to offer. Looking into the faces of young children who will go without that certain “something.”
I guess for most of us it’s a combination of sweetness and sorrow – things could always be “better” – but usually things could be worse as well. But I personally don’t find comparisons especially helpful. I don’t enjoy haven’t “more” when I know someone around me has “less.”
So I guess my wish for this Christmas – is that everyone look around their own social circle, and reach out to help someone who finds that the holidays are not, in fact, “happy.” And love them. Encourage them. Remember them. Smile and them. Listen to them.
And for anyone who, whatever the reason, is hurting this holiday – I’d really love to give you a hug, remind you that you aren’t alone and let you know in our home we are thinking about you… and offering prayers and best wishes that you will find that ‘perfect peace’ – the kind that does not depend on circumstances… and please remember you are valuable – and you are loved.