Shawn used to help me with everything in my life. It seems like an extreme statement to say "everything". But, that is how my mind remembers him. He seemed to be very willing to serve, knowing this was one of the best ways he could show me his love. I miss this level of devotion.
This year, pulling out Christmas boxes to decorate initially felt like a chore. It had been Shawn’s job to lug out the boxes from storage, allowing me to have "creative time" to put things where I wanted. He would hang the lights and garland up high both outside and inside. I didn’t have to think about using a ladder. I loved (love) to create. He loved to please. We worked well together. I loved (love) to design. He would do his best to help me achieve my vision. He wasn’t scared of heights. We complimented each other’s strengths. Without him, Christmas doesn’t feel like a compliment. The togetherness of the holiday has been converted into a form of isolation for me even though I am surrounded by many loving people.
Last night, as I started to drag the boxes from the crawl space, I was reluctant to fake my way through the boughs of holly. Yet, I felt a sense of importance to provide my children with the experience of Christmas. Not just with lights and ornaments and a tree, but even more so with the spirit of the season that resides in my heart. It is meaningful for me to share real joy with them.
I decided to grant myself permission to decorate without feeling burdened or pressured to put out every adornment I own. The next morning when my children gazed at what I had displayed, their eyes grew with intrigue and well-rested smiles. They were impressed with the tree, excited about the toy-bear musicians that play Christmas carols on bells and fascinated with the nativity globe, which plays “O Little Town of Bethlehem” while glistening snow falls around the baby Jesus.
I couldn’t believe how good it felt to enter into the celebration of Christmas. There is a sense of healing within the holidays that reveals itself in small, unpredictable steps if we are open to participate. And I believe there can be good surprises even when we try something we don’t believe we are strong enough to do. Chances are we are stronger than we know. If we need to we can climb the ladder.