Updated: Jan 31
Dear Single Mom,
It's different this year, I know. You're remembering that first Christmas as a family. You know, the one when you and your husband spent two hours trying to put together that obnoxious pre-lit tree. You barely had any ornaments that year but you were young and in love and so you didn't much care. This year, though, the box of Christmas ornaments is full but your bed is empty. The December calendar looks different. There are lots of emotions you're experiencing and I know most of the once-sweet memories you held dear are no longer a cup of yuletide cheer, but a cup of sour eggnog that's been left out too long. The memories of the mistletoe that was hung over the doorway, the Christmas parties you attended together and the traditions you started, they're just that - memories. It isn't going to be your reality this year. That's painful, I know. But I want you to listen to me and try to follow these steps. Are you ready? Okay. Go dig out that Christmas tree and put it up. Yes, I know that was his job and this year, you're all by yourself. It's really not as hard as it sounds and you can do it. Put on some happy Christmas music (not too loud though, you have to hear yourself think) and get to it. You're going to have some trouble with the star, I'm not going to lie, but you'll figure it out. Is it up? Okay, now in spite of all the unanswered questions and the pain you are going to feel, I want you to get out that box of ornaments and start decorating. If you can't bear to hang the wedding ornament, it's okay. Give yourself some grace and set it aside. Just decorate that tree. Done? It looks lovely. Now get out the sugar, the baking soda, the vanilla, the eggs..... bake some cookies. Oh, and make sure you put flour on your face because that means you had fun (plus it makes it look like you know what you're doing). Bake them. Eat one...or two. Your kids will love it.
It smells delicious! Okay, you're not going to like this part but it has to happen. Get dressed and go to the mall. No, you don't have to wash your hair, just put a baseball cap on if that's all you have energy for. It's fine.
Trips to the store can be brutal, I know. But go. I know you're going to park outside the mall and watch the steady stream of shoppers go in and out. They look so happy, full of Christmas spirit. Yes, I know you have no Christmas spirit, but just hang on. Take a deep breath and make yourself get out of the car and walk inside. Listen to the music playing overhead. Yeah, that is one of the more annoying Christmas songs, but smile anyway. See the big tree? Take a moment and really look at it. Don't go into the men's department of Dillards. Don't do that to yourself. Why don't you walk to the purses and get that one you know your mom would love? Yep, she would like that one. Keep walking around. Oh, you caught a whiff of his cologne. I'm so sorry, I know it's painful. Just take a deep breath and keep putting one foot in front of the other. See that woman to your left? Smile at her. She's got some sadness in her life too, you know. In fact, every single person in this huge mall has some level of pain in their heart. Try to hum something. It will help. No, don't hum, "I'll Be Home For Christmas"!! Don't do that. Try humming, "Joy to the World" instead. There, see? Told you you'd feel better.
Okay, you made it out of the store. I'm so proud of you. You're doing great. Now, you have to wrap these gifts. The number of presents is smaller this year, but that's okay. Really, it's totally fine. Just think on this: Jesus gave Himself and that's all you need to do. Just throw yourself into Christmas this year, even if there isn't much of yourself left. Put every piece of your heart in a box and wrap it. Your kiddos need you. I know you have needs too but trust me, sweet girl, Emmanuel is right there with you to meet each one. I know you may not feel Him and I know you find it cruel and harsh to be forced to endure such a happy season while in so much pain, but He isn't being cruel. In fact, I have an idea....
Put the wrapping paper down and get your Bible. Flip to the book of Luke. Yes, I know you practically have this memorized and it's so cliche to read it this time of year. Get over it. It's still God's Holy Word and He has more to say. Okay, read the whole Christmas story. Put yourself there in the little town of Bethlehem. Try to smell the hay. Try to hear the lambs bleating. Try to imagine the shepherds' awe when they saw a multitude of angels appear to announce Jesus' birth. Imagine the dirt on your feet as you run to the stable. There He is. Look at Him. That's where joy is. The baby in the arms of a virgin girl - He's going to grow up and He is going to become the sacrificial Lamb for you. All the pain you're experiencing because of sin, He is going to take it all and put it upon Himself. Does it give you the slightest feeling of comfort and joy? It should....
Single Momma, I want you to have a merry Christmas. I know you're thinking, "MERRY Christmas?" I know you're worn but even though you are weighed down with so many responsibilities that were never supposed to be yours, let your heart be light. One day, 2,000 years ago, all the burdens of the world were placed on Jesus, and one day very soon all your troubles will be out of sight forever. Right now I know you're overwhelmed so I want you to take a minute and relax your shoulders. Jesus isn't overwhelmed by you, sister. Take a deep breath. I know you're worried about how you're going to make it and how you're going to do this whole "single mom" thing but, for now, turn off the lights (hey, you'll save on electricity!) and simply gaze at the lights on the tree. Remind yourself that He is the light of truth and the light that will always be there in our cold, dark nights. You're worried about your kids as any good Momma would be. Keep in mind that the ways of the Lord are not our ways and our definition of love is limited while His is unlimited. All you have to do is be faithful to Jesus and place your little ones into the hands that created the perfect tone in your little boy's giggle and painted the perfect shade of blue in your daughter's eyes. He has them. He has you. You are safe. Look around and enjoy the music piercing through the darkness. Look around and bask in the redemption that came in the middle of that silent night.
This Christmas, know you are beloved by the Almighty, you are protected by the All-Powerful One and you are strengthened by the All-Sufficient One. It's okay to cry tears in that raw place of heartache. But get up, eat another Christmas cookie, put on that gosh awful Christmas sweater and have yourself a merry little Christmas. Because here is the thing that makes Christmas worth loving, honey: Now that Emmanuel has come, you're never going to be alone again.