You've had a difficult year.
Maybe that would be a vast understatement.
Perhaps you've encountered challenges galore and transitions that have almost done you in. Or immense losses too great to number or beyond description. And you already know that this year's holidays will be drastically altered and you're not quite sure what you're going to do about it.
I hear you, friend. That scenario was ours last year as both my dad and our little grandson Tyler went home to be with Jesus, one in July and one in September, suddenly and without notice. Our extended family was left reeling, stunned, and shaken to the core.
We were also yearning to gather together again.
To soak in the strength of each other's company and savor hugs given. To play and laugh hard and feast well and share sweet memories that just begged to be spoken.
A week or two before the planned festivities, one or two decided that it would be wise to skip our decades old Thanksgiving tradition of going around the table after dessert with each one, young and old, sharing what we were most thankful for in the just-about-finished year.
It wasn't that we weren't thankful.
It's just that we thought it wouldn't, at that point, well ... be particularly helpful.
Fast forward to the blazing smokey fire pit outside the kitchen door. The bitter icy cold and the shared knit blanket wrapped up tight and the mugs of steaming coffee. Fast forward to soft marshmallows melting into gooey chocolate wedged between stone-cold-crisp graham crackers.
And fast forward to the cuddling and the laughter and the billowing smoke that finally sent all sixteen of us stampeding back into the house to thaw out and re-warm.
This was how our thankfulness played out. It just ended up being different than the norm.
I have no idea what unspeakable losses and unexpected transitions have come your way in recent months or what your holidays are shaping up to look like this year. All I can do is encourage your family to have some gentle, respectful conversations together, to listen well to each other, to embrace what works for you in this particular season.
Preferably well ahead of time.
By all means, turn once again to your beloved, anticipated traditions if they will be comforting and grace-filled. But be courageous enough to shake things up a bit and temporarily put aside any former routines that would feel forced or uncomfortable, exhausting or just plain inappropriate for where your tender hearts find themselves.
I'd love to hear what you've done to navigate through difficult holidays. And if this has been a rough year, let's talk. You're in good company around here.
And praise God, even through life's seismic shifts and the grief and uncertainty that follows, He remains solid and strong, tender and sweetly present.
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