Its that magical time of year again....
Twinkling lights, ornaments & crafting, hot cocoa & gingerbread, wrapping presents & warm slippers. Yet this Christmas is already drastically different than all of our previous Christmases, as we will be missing mom (Rachel) and we aren't in China, our beloved home for the last 7 years. It has been about 2 months since mom passed away, but the grief continues to come in waves, especially when a holiday arrives. There is a huge peace in knowing that she is no longer in pain, and at rest with her beloved Savior, but we continue to miss her deeply. There is such a huge hole without her here, in so many ways. She was such a go-getter: she made things happen. She would organize events, gatherings, meals, and she was the life of the party! We are living in HER old home now, where countless memories surface of past Christmases spent with babies, cousins, aunts & uncles, and ALWAYS piles of presents.
Mom was always a gift-giver. She loved to watch her granddaughters open a special gift from her. It brought her so much joy. She gave extravagantly, yet always fairly. We (as parents) didn't always make it easy for her to exercise this internal desire -- we limited gifting in certain years, which really felt like the right decision back then. We still like to keep gift-giving simple and practical, and focused on others, BUT this year (2012) we both feel different. Different, in that -- we feel like we want to fill in the gaps where mom would have been. Like maybe, if we buy extra gifts, it won't feel like she is really gone, or if we give extravagantly like she did, it might still feel like a REAL Christmas. I know this sounds contradictory, but everything does when you lose a loved one.
It's also hard for me (in a somewhat selfish way), because mom knew how to bless ME. She knew that I didn't ever get many gifts, and she would always ask me specifically what I wanted - and make sure she got me something that I would never have bought for myself. She was the first one to bug me for a list (especially when we were overseas) - and she made sure she got the exact item. She really did want to bless me. I am not sure if we should have stifled this desire in her - we tended to have high ideals as parents, wanting to shield our kids from materialism & greed.....but her gifting really came from a pure heart. I am just now realizing that. It makes me want to give generously and abundantly and specifically - to bless someone who I really love. She was amazing like that, and I hope we can live out her memory without attempting to fill the hole, but just remembering the JOY that she had in blessing others. Even though this Christmas will be different, I want to cherish it - and cherish the years of memories I have with mom.